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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.