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What Makes a Person Boring

What Makes a Person Boring

I have interviewed over 100 people for a number of positions. It’s always exciting to talk with driven candidates, but sometimes I will admit that I have to fight the urge to yawn during an interview.

The last thing that you want to do at an interview or at a social event is lull your audience to sleep. Regardless of context, when I’m getting to know someone, I want to hear stories about different aspects of the person’s life. I want to know what is happening with them so that I can understand how they face adversity and measure their own success.

Sometimes I walk away from a conversation feeling completely bowled over by a person’s personality and accomplishments. Other times, the interaction has little impact, and I have trouble remembering the individual later. Nobody wants to be the forgettable person at the party or the lackluster job candidate.

You don’t have to go on wild adventures all the time to be interesting

After interviewing so many people, I have a good sense of how monotony manifests itself. If a person is sitting in my office, I already know that he or she is qualified. I need to know more about the human being that did all the things on that CV.

What holds true for the most interesting job candidates also holds true in life. When you meet a new person, are you drawn to someone who lists off accomplishments with no back-story, or are you moved by their unique perspective? You don’t have to go on wild adventures all the time to be interesting, but your attitude about taking on challenges and meeting new people can influence how others perceive you.

People who are willing to work hard to overcome obstacles almost always stand out when compared to people who are always trying to play it safe.

The five yawn-inducing people you don’t want to be

If you want to be a memorable person there are a few things that you should avoid at all costs. Based on my life experience and time as an interviewer, if a person demonstrates any one of these attributes, I am not likely to see out additional interactions with them.

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1. The individual who can’t take social cues.

Unless you have a disorder that affects your ability to interact with others socially, you should have a basic grasp of social cues. People who can’t read a crowd are boring, and they don’t even notice it. They see their audience yawning, shifting in their seats, and glancing at their watches, and it doesn’t register that those people want to leave.

Even the most interesting people slip into a tedious tale once in a while, but if they’re paying attention to others’ reactions, they’ll adjust what they are saying, shorten their story, or rekindle interest.

I knew an individual in college who was terrible at reading her fellow students’ cues. People avoided being around her because she told lengthy stories while disregarding others’ class schedules. She’d continue talking even as her audience inched toward the exit. She was the sweetest person, but because she didn’t pay attention to her peers’ cues that they needed to leave, many people considered her to be boring.

A boring person will drone on until they’ve run out of things to say, which is usually well beyond the point when their audience has tuned out.

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    2. Someone too worried about what other people think.

    It’s natural to want to project a positive image that showcases your confidence and competence, but someone who cares too much about how other people view him or her is bound to be a people-pleaser. People-pleasers come off as boring because their fear of offending others prevents them from expressing themselves.

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    Having no strong opinion about anything is downright dull, and in a work setting, it can lead teams into disastrous situations.[1] If you ask for an opinion and the answer you always get is, “I think that’s great,” “Whatever you think,” or, “That seems okay,” then you can’t grow your idea. The people-pleaser’s input is useless.

    The most interesting people are willing to put forth their opinions–even if their ideas are different from the people around them. Being your authentic self requires vulnerability.[2] You can easily spot the person who wants to avoid making waves because they’ll always defer to your opinion or refuse to state their own.

    When we have meaningful conversations, we can take projects and conversations in exciting new directions. It is possible to be kind and professional while disagreeing with someone. Sharing leads to growth, but pandering leads to stagnation.

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      3. The person with the persistently negative attitude

      This may be my pet peeve. While it is acceptable to complain when something isn’t going well, grumbling should not be a person’s default setting. Constant complaining without working to find a solution is tiresome.[3] Individuals who do this are more invested in expressing their feelings than they are in fixing the problem.

      Whining about problems is easy, but taking action requires effort and change. People who aren’t willing to work to improve their situation are scared to move forward. Complaining allows them to vent, but it keeps them well within their comfort zone. There’s nothing less interesting than watching someone remain trapped by their own negativity.

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      I had an acquaintance who fell into this negativity trap. I tried to help her problem-solve, but she would always reply with, “Oh that will never work,” or “I can’t do that.” It seemed like no matter how many ways I tried to help this person with her growing list of issues, she refused to help herself. Eventually I became frustrated with her unwillingness to work toward a solution, and I stopped interacting with her.

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        4. Everyone is boring other than himself 

        This is a subtle form of narcissism that I’ve seen a number of times during interviews. A whopping 55% of hiring managers agree that seeming disinterested during an interview is grounds for rejection.[4] People who can’t take an interest in others often don’t like new experiences, and they aren’t willing to make connections.

        You may have met this person before. This is the person at the party who doesn’t mind holding court and telling their own stories, but their eyes glaze over whenever anyone else starts to talk. They get bored quickly if the conversation isn’t aimed toward something they like.

        Memorable people work to connect with others, and connecting involves being willing to speak and listen.

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          5. Someone who put stability as their first priority

          Some people are happy to stay in their bubble and stagnate. They don’t desire change, and they fear new things.

          You’ll catch these people avoid meeting new people or breaking from their routine. They tend to make excuses and say things like, “This is too much for me,” “I don’t think I will like it,” and “I’m good at what I’m doing.” Knowing when to say no is an important part of living a balanced life, but people who refuse every opportunity may be more interested in avoiding fear than leading an exciting existence.

          People who won’t try anything new have created a prison for themselves. Their unwillingness to be exposed to novel situations leads them to a comfortable but mediocre existence. They talk about a few topics all the time, or repeat a handful of stories because there simply isn’t much going on with them.

          Break out of your comfort zone and bamboozle us with your greatness.

          You don’t have to be a social butterfly or a daredevil to be an interesting person, but you do need to be open to what the world has to offer. If you show no interest in anything, and everyone seems boring to you, it might be time to look in the mirror and decide if the world is boring or if you need to make a change.

          There’s no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone. -Unknown

          Reference

          More by this author

          Brian Lee

          Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

          100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

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          Last Updated on May 7, 2019

          How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

          How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

          Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

          The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

          The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

          Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

          People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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            They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

            Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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                1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
                2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
                3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
                4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
                5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

                How to Spot a Wolf

                  Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

                  Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

                  A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

                  A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

                  Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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                  Ask Questions, the More the Better

                  There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

                  When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

                  Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

                  They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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                  Wolves Are Everywhere

                  As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

                  Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

                  Reference

                  [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
                  [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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