3 Signs that your conversation isn’t interesting (or welcome)

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

Do you sometimes feel like you’re talking to somebody who isn’t listening? Here are 3 signs that the other person doesn’t want to talk.

  1. The other person does not face you directly, or frequently turns to face away from you. If you are interesting, or a conversation with you is worthwhile, people will turn their whole body to face you – head, torso and feet. They may occasionally adjust their stance, but their position will remain fixed towards you. When a conversation isn’t welcome, people will direct parts, or all, of their body away from you, such as at 90 degrees from you. Often, it is as subtle as a foot pointing away. If you’re in a room, the other person will point towards the exit. These are signs that your conversation isn’t appreciated.
  2. The other person’s eyes look away. The other person’s eyes will dart away, often over your shoulder, or towards their watch – or even your watch. It’s an involuntary reflex that says “I need to get away.” This is different from when people ‘stare into space’ when talking to you.
  3. The other person uses ‘wrapping up’ language. The other person makes statements that show intention to leave the conversation. Such as:
    • “Well it was great to see you…”
    • “Let’s talk/meet later…”
    • “OK….[long pause]”

Do you recognize any of these signs?

If you observe them, it doesn’t mean that what you have to say is not interesting at all, or that a conversation with you is undesirable. More often than not, it’s the timing of the conversation that is the problem. The other person could be very busy, distracted or overwhelmed.

So don’t take it personally and don’t give up. If you experience any of the above signs, then ask the person if the timing is inconvenient and suggest you meet or talk at a later point.

One more tip: for most impromptu conversations, I ask the other person if they have 5 minutes (or however long it will take) to discuss a subject. Most people are honest about their answer.

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