The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/cx/apps/boring.htm
Clicking underlined links here will open a
new window. Other links will open an informational popup,
so please turn off your
browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site.
Follow underlined links after
finishing this article to avoid getting lost.
This is one of a series
of brief articles on how to respond effectively
to annoying social behavior.
An "effective response" occurs
when the responder (a) gets their
primary needs met
well enough, and (b) both people feel
This article proposes effective responses
to two social situations: (1) when you're bored
with one or more other people, and (2) when you
are boring other people.It assumes
you're familiar with...
to this nonprofit Web site and the
If there's someone in your life who bores you
"significantly," keep them in mind as you read
this. Note the important difference between
and being bored.
Infants, kids, and adults converse to fill a mix
of up to five current needs. Can you
When someone isn't filling their current
communication needs well enough, they become
frustrated and/or bored - yes?
saying out loud what bores you in a
social situation. Two common causes are
(a) a topic you have no interest in, and (b) the
the person talks. For example...
on and on,
without eye contact (monologing, rambling, or ranting)
in a monotone,
with little vocal or physical expression,
giving you more
detail than you need or want; and/or....
talking in vague
intellectual abstractions and generalities,
happens inside you when you're socially bored?
Many people evolve a distracting
inner conflict. Part of them
wants to be polite, and another part wants to
do something, like repress frustration,
pretend interest, showing impatience, losing eye
contact, excusing yourself (leaving), interrupt,
change the subject, fidget, yawn, and/or "tune
out." If the "action part wins, many people feel
guilty. Do you?
Do you do any of these when you're socially
How does the other person react? Most responses
like these indicate
control you and the "boring" person.
Before considering situations when you
bore other people, let's explore more effective
response options to your boredom. For
perspective, view this brief YouTube video on
the relationship skill of respectful assertion:
Do you consider yourself "assertive"? The
alternatives are "submissive"
Decide if you're
both. If you're bored...
Decide who's responsible for reducing your
boredom - you or your partner. If you
accept responsibility, go ahead. If not,
check for a disabled true Self.
Affirm that your
personal rights are just as legitimate and
important as the other person's -
regardless of their title, status, gender,
position. If you
don't feel this, check for a false self.
Decide specifically what is boring
you - the topic, the way the other
person is speaking, or both. Then identify
what you need now. Option - also estimate what
your partner needs, or ask!
Remind yourself that (a)
giving respectful feedback (information, not
criticism) is a gift, and that (b) you are
responsible for the way you
give it but
not for the other person's feelings.
If you feel
uneasy about asserting your needs and
possibly hurting your partner's feelings,
these ideas in mind.
other person if you have to, and ask if
s/he's open to some constructive feedback.
If yes, go ahead. If no, suspect a false
self is controlling them. See
for options when you finish here.
friendly eye contact, say something like...
"So (Name), you (sum up in one or two
sentences what you feel s/he's describing).
Is that right?"
confess I'm not really interested in
and I'm having a hard time
listening to you."
"I'd rather talk about ________.")
you (drone on and on / don't look at me /
don't include me / have a one-person
awareness bubble / omit your feelings / talk
at me / lecture me / (etc.) I start
to time you out." Or...
feeling flooded by all that you're saying.
Can you sum up briefly what you want me to
"(Name), I think we
have a conflict now. You need to vent at
length, and I need to talk / problem-solve /
make dinner / take a nap / go to the store /
etc. It sounds like your main point has been
really distracted by __________, and I can't
listen to you any more. Please excuse me."
several things about these assertions:
start with the person's name and a
there are no
apologies, labels, generalities,
justifications, or "you" messages;
specific about what you observe about
the other person without labeling it,
saying specifically what you need now.
The other person
may stop talking or change the subject, or
s/he may continue with "Yes, but I...",
or something else.
responses often indicate a false self is in
control. You may
respond with respectful
empathic listening to acknowledge the person, and then restate
your assertion calmly, with steady eye
If the person is
young, adjust the language of your response
to match their age.
of your favorite boring person. Can you imagine
doing these preparations and giving one or more
assertive responses like these? If not, why? Do
you fear "hurting the other person's feelings"?
Reflect - in situations like this, whose needs are most important
- yours or theirs? (Trick question. The best
answer is "Both are equally important.") I propose that
interest or enduring boredom is dishonest,
disrespectful, and self-abusive. What do you
How would you compare these sample responses to
your normal way of reacting to a boring person?
Does it depend on who the other person is? I
suggest these responses and the attitudes
underneath them apply equally to any
person - a beggar, a parent, a mate, a child, or
Now let's look at the opposite case - someone
implies or says that...
You Are Boring
If you're not sure if a person is bored with you
and/or your topic, options include...
Asking. If you ask something
direct like "Am I boring you?" or "Do you
really want to hear this?" and your partner
is controlled by a false self, you'll
probably get a "nice" (insincere, mixed) answer ("No, I'm fascinated. Please go
on."), rather than an honest one. Lose-lose.
better choice is to check your
awareness bubble - e.g. "Am I aware of my
partner's behavior and needs now?"
The odds of being a bore are highest if you
focus lengthily on yourself. That often
indicates a false self dominates you.
If you sense a person is bored by you and/or your topic, you
may continue anyway, stop talking, change
the subject, or ask what your partner needs.
If you're not finished,
check who's needs
you're trying to fill by talking further - yours, theirs, or
If it's your need, an effective response begins with.