People Say I’m Boring

Reader’s Question

First of all thanks for this service. God Bless you people. I am a 26-year-old male. I have one problem, that is I look very boring to many people. They say that I am a very boring person but I feel that I have good sense of humor. One thing I notice is that I laugh very little. And I don’t laugh loudly. I don’t know what is the reason. I think that I think very much. That’s the reason I feel that I look very bored, and less energetic. What should I do?

Psychologist’s Reply

If we say someone is boring, how do we describe that? In social settings, when our interaction with others is overly cautious about what we say and do, when we have reduced emotional response and spontaneity, when we think too much rather than talk, and when our interaction with the group is lethargic (low energy) — we are generally considered boring. On the other end of the scale are people who are “hyper”, talkative, emotionally overexpressive, and irritating. From a clinical standpoint, what often causes being boring?

From your description, is sounds like you may be introverted or socially shy. Individuals who are introverted and shy often lack good social confidence and social skills. They are self-conscious in the company of others and are always monitoring their own comments and reactions rather than those around them. They are fearful of social embarassment and hesitant to laugh, joke or even express emotions.

In conversations with others, they want you to pay attention to what they are saying and thinking. They don’t want you to be worried about what you are saying and thinking while talking to them. If you do, you are considered “boring” or uninteresting. If we video-record an introverted/shy person talking to others, they are so self-conscious and thinking so hard that a friendly expression (smiles, grins, eye-contact, etc.) is absent from their face. This is why they look bored — there’s little or no response to what those around them are doing or saying. They’re too busy thinking!

Introversion and shyness are not a psychiatric disorder unless accompanied by significant levels of anxiety or distress — then it’s considered Social Phobia. It doesn’t sound like you’ve reached that point. I would recommend researching introversion, shyness, and improving social skills on the Internet. There are hundreds of websites that offer tips on overcoming shyness. You can also conduct some self-treatment by experimenting and rehearsing your social skills. Practice “small talk” — that idle chatter people use on elevators, grocery store lines, standing around the office coffee pot, etc. Observe people using “small talk” and you’ll find that most of the conversation has very little important content. Introverted folks are worried about saying something important while most “small talk” and social interaction is lots of verbal chatter with very little important information.

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Counseling can help you not only improve your social interaction but provide guidelines for improving social confidence as well. Some counselors specialize in treatment for phobic, shy, or introverted individuals. There’s a lot of help available out there and on the Internet. Like everyone else, you’ll need to run the risk of social embarassment to feel comfortable engaging in casual conversations with your peers. In my career, I’m typically embarassed several times a day. It’s part of life that should be enjoyed and laughed at rather than feared. Good luck as you work on making yourself and your life more interesting — both to you and those around you.

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