How To Handle Bores
One of the most consistently awesome Google Bookmarks sharers on my list, Alex, shared this great article written about how he suffers boring people and how sometimes he can't figure out how to handle it.
The funny bit? He bores the SHIT out of me after the first few paragraphs. There's no reason at all to go on that long about people who go on too long. But it did get me thinking about the bores in my life, and why somehow I'm able to escape them, while my wife - notorious for being unable to hang up the phone or end a conversation because she's WAY too polite - always gets stuck in the conversations. And up until this very second, I always thought it was because I was just inantely rude and blunt and able to disappoint people without giving it much thought.
But when I consider it, I realize that no one has ever actually come back to me after I've dodged a long converation of absolutely no importance and told me I was rude, mean, or otherwise impolite. And I realized that I've actually got a talent for dodging boredom.
I think the biggest thing is that I realize there's a difference beteen politeness and placation. Politeness is saying "Hey, I can't talk right now" or "I was just on my way to [x], can we talk in a bit?" or "I've only got a second to talk - what's up?" Whereas placation is sitting there listening for ten or twenty minutes about all the boring bullshit going on in someone's life, simply because you're too timid to tell them to STFU and GTFO.
But I also realize that that timidity is often hard to overcome. You just plain don't want to insult someone, and you lack the tact or talent to effectively pull off a conversational stiff-arm. So here's a few tips:
1) Always - and I mean ALWAYS - keep your phone in your hand. Look at it as you walk down hallways, study it as you traverse the area between your cubicle and wherever it is you're going where you may be intercepted. If someone appears that you know is going to want to chat your face off, say hi and begin talking, then suddenly act as if the phone vibrated. Turn it on, pop to an existing text conversation, and say "I'm sorry, my (sister, brother, mother - someone in the immediate family) just texted, I need to call thiem. Can we chat later?"
2) Learn The Cough. You know the one... The one you have when you have eaten bad mexican or chinese or italian, and you are beginning the very universal process of having to sprint to the john. It's not a sick-type cough. It's more of a gruntish escape of air. Not quite a burp, and not quite a hack. Dent your tummy and let the air escape up your throat, and you'll see something very similiar to it. Learn to do this on command, and say "I'm sorry, can you excuse me?" Don't bother explaining... They already know what this is.
3) Interrupt for Aspirin. "And then, little Suzy was late for her ice skating practice, and the cop just couldn't see past it, he kept talking to me about how I didn't fully stop at that stop sign, and how much of a hazard it was, and I just KNEW I was going to miss Yoga if I didn't--"
You: "Hey, I'm sorry to interrupt you... But you don't happen to have any aspirin on you, do you?"
Them: "You have a headache?" "Yeah, have since early this morning, it's killing me...."
See how simple that is? From here, they will either give you some and you need to excuse yourself for water, or they won't have any and you excuse yourself to go get some.
4) Segue into bodily fluids. No matter what's being discussed, make it disgusting. If it's a guy-on-guy discussion, bring up your wife's menstrual cycle. If it's a chick-on-chick discussion, bring up your husband's low sperm count. If it's a chick-on-guy conversation, this is easy, just mention that time of the month. Conversation over.
5) Learn to sneeze on command. I can actually do this. It's really hard to describe how I do it, but I'll try - I concentrate on any feeling I have in my sinuses or nasal cavity, and begin obsessing on how much it tickles. Even if it doesn't actually tickle, all I think about is how much it does. Then I squint slightly, and boom - there goes the sneeze. Just make sure not to cover your mouth, and the conversation's over.
6) Fart. Yep.
7) Grow a pair. Just say "Hey, sorry, I don't have time to talk right now. Can we pick this up later?" It's simple and effective. Think about how you feel when people do that to you - you understand they're busy, they can't really spend the time, and they ended things by welcoming another opportunity. It's fair and easy and works just fine.