Topics to Avoid If You Don’t Want to Be a Bore

My friend Gretchen Rubin, who writes the must-read Happiness Project blog, did a post today on topics to avoid in conversation if you don’t want to be a bore.

Unless you get a truly enthusiastic response from your interlocutor—which is possible—be very wary of recounting…

1. A dream.
2. The recent changes in your child’s nap schedule.
3. The route you took to get here.
4. An excellent meal you once had at a restaurant. 
5. The latest additions to your wine cellar.
6. An account your last golf game.
7. The plot of a movie, play, or movie—in particular, the funny parts.

What do these subjects have in common? The listener has nothing to add. He or she must just hear you describe your experience.

I’m always surprised and disappointed that more people don’t ignore sunk costs and abort the telling of a story when it’s clear it’s headed for the ground.

Note that Gretchen’s advice and most literature on conversation techniques apply more to the "dinner party with strangers" situation than a conversation with close friends.

Here’s my post on Keys to Great Conversations. Here are notes from the Junto discussion Chris Yeh and I led on the "Art of Storytelling in Business".


Belated (public) congratulations to Gretchen for selling her Happiness Project idea to HarperCollins for a forthcoming book. I will pre-order the moment it appears on Amazon!

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