This skill is crucial—but 1 in 7 people don’t feel like they have it
By Alisa Hrustic

Are you boring? Sixty-five percent of people worry they’ve become too dull, according to a new survey of 2,000 Americans. In the poll commissioned by Flatbike, market researchers found that 1 in 7 people feel they don’t have any interesting stories to dish out when they’re around other people.

That’s a problem—especially if you tend to navigate the conversation toward yourself. In fact, only being interested in talking about yourself is the top reason someone might find you boring, the survey found. Having no sense of humour, complaining a lot, repeating the same jokes and stories, and constantly checking your phone (put the damn thing down already!) also topped the list.

We get it, finding something clever or entertaining to say when you’re at a table full of quiet people staring down at their phones is frustrating, to say the least. But keep this in mind: People don’t want to hear about that amazing vacation you took without them, they want to be able to contribute to the conversation. That’s because you actually enjoy hearing stories that are somewhat familiar, according to a series of studies from Harvard and the University of Virginia, as we reported here.

“When our friends try to tell us about movies we’ve never seen or albums we’ve never heard, we usually find ourselves bored, confused, and underwhelmed. That’s because those experiences are so complex that they are nearly impossible for an ordinary person to communicate well,” Daniel T. Gilbert, Ph.D., an author on the study, explained in a press release. “And yet, as soon as it’s our turn to speak, we do exactly the same thing to our friends—with exactly the same consequences.”

So instead of bragging about your epic getaway, say, “It was awesome; it reminded me of that one time we all went away together for matric vac.” That will give them something to pull from, elicit old emotions, and actually strengthen your friendship—and then you can bounce stories back and forth from there.

Originally published on menshealth.com