“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”—Dorothy Parker
There are many different studies surrounding boredom and how we behave to stop feeling bored. One of the most surprising, perhaps, is that humans will choose even uncomfortable stimuli (such as a slight electric shock) just to mitigate the boredom we feel.
There are also different studies that prove we make snap judgments about people—we view others with certain jobs, personalities, and interests as “boring”. For example, if a friend told us they’ll be introducing an acquaintance who works as a data analyst and loves to watch TV in their spare time, we label that acquaintance as “boring” even before we have the chance to meet and get to know this person.
Because humans are generally averse to boredom, to the point that uncomfortable stimuli are much preferable over feeling bored, we tend to avoid associating with people we deem as boring. The problem with this behavior is, we also tend to marginalize people we find uninteresting, sometimes even to the point of hostility.
These snap judgments often result in poor relationships with other people. In business, we do the same thing. If we are on the phone with a lead we deem “unqualified” or “poor leads”, we lose interest in making the effort to build rapport and nurture the relationship.
We are quick to think, “This person will not bring me business,” and we stop trying to, for lack of a better word, win them over.
It also affects the way we interact with people in our personal lives. These preconceived biases often prevent us from getting to know the person because we’ve already made a conclusion about them in our minds. But sometimes, a data analyst who loves watching TV in their spare time can be as interesting as a journalist who loves to travel.
We miss out on potentially good relationships because we were quick to judge and stick to our biases.
The best way to overcome this is by being curious about the other person.
The world is much bigger than what we know and perceive it to be, and it could be interesting to learn how other people who look nothing like you and lived a very different life than you perceive the same world you live in.
Curiosity helps us get to the essence of the other person. Ask open-ended questions, not just for the sake of conversation, but because you are genuinely interested to know them.
When we learn the art of being genuinely curious about the world and other people, our horizons open up in ways we never imagine.
We are able to learn new things, build better relationships, see situations from different perspectives, and think of creative and new ideas to solve problems. We see new opportunities that we never considered before. We learn and grow.
And if you are that “boring” data analyst who loves watching TV in your spare time, it might be time to reinvent how you present yourself in a different light. We are more than just our jobs, backgrounds, and interests. If we know how to better highlight the things that we are good at, and the things other people might find interesting about us, we can reframe the way other people see us.
If that isn’t enough for the other person at the end of the conversation, that’s alright. Some people find it hard to let go of their biases and negative stereotypes. As David Robson wrote in an article, “Boringness, like beauty, lies in the mind of the beholder.”
What matters is that you tried to reframe the way you present yourself, and you’ve seen yourself in a different light. You’ve probably discovered new things about yourself that you previously didn’t know when you did that exercise.
It pays to be curious about others, but let’s not forget to also be curious about ourselves.
Thank you for reading “A Brilliant Tribe.”