We all have to do things we would rather not. A night at the opera, a stuffy business dinner, formal longer than necessary ceremonies. To get through some of these mind numbing events one must master the art of looking interested even when bored out of your mind.
There are a few reasons you don’t want to look bored. It’s impolite and can cause hurt feelings. If someone is being honored or acknowledged at a ceremony then you don’t want to take away from their moment. Same if they’re giving a preformance. What if a friend invites you to a boring party or event? You don’t want to hurt their feelings by showing you’re not having a good time. Giving your attention is showing respect and when you’re distracted or bored you’re showing disrespect.
That being said some occasions, even people, are just dreadfully dull. The trick is not showing your true feelings. Now I’m not condoning being fake or not paying attention but sometimes it can’t be helped. Maybe it’s been a long day or you may have other things on your mind, it’s perfectly natural to become bored at times. The best thing you can do is know how to handle your boredom so you’re still polite and conscientious of other’s feelings.
The main thing to focus on is body language. Over half (55% to be exact) of communication is achieved non verbally. The other 45% is verbal but with the majority of expression relying on pitch, tone and volume. Only 7% relies on the actual words being spoken. This is good news because one of the biggest challenges to overcome when we’re bored is not knowing how to respond because frankly, we weren’t paying attention. Therefore let’s focus on what makes the biggest impression. Body language.
What comes to mind when you think of a bored person? Shoulders slumped, eyes rolling, staring off into space, blank expression, fiddling with their phone. Now let’s reverse these things.
- Stand or sit up straight. Shoulders back, head up, elbows off the table. This helps you look alert and like you have more energy than you do.
- Focus on where the action is. If it’s a performance of some kind follow the dancers or actors across the stage. Don’t just stare at one point but move you’re attention here and there. If someone’s speaking keep your attention on them.
- Occasionally smile with your eyes. You don’t have to constantly smile like you’re having the time of your life but you don’t want to look like you’re ready to pass out. By occasionally reminding yourself to smize (thank you Tyra) then you will look naturally content.
- No fidgeting. Shaking your leg, drumming your nails, fiddling with your phone. These are all signs of boredom. So try keeping your body calm and relaxed.
Following these tips will help solve your look of boredom. The same tips apply when you’re speaking with people. You want to stand up straight, focus your attention on them, smile and give appropriate reactions such as nodding, laughing and an occasional ooh and aah. It’s nice in a group when you can mindlessly mimic the reactions of others.
If you’re stuck in a boring one on one conversation this will require a little more attention. Try to ask them about themselves and when you do have to give a response make it vague but enthusiastic. “Oh how lovely!” (eye contact and smile) vs “Ah nice…” (blank stare off into the distance).
HOMEWORK: Try practicing these tips for the next time you’re bored. Practice them until they become second nature and you can let your mind wander with the assurance that you’re still conveying an attentive happy look.