Gretchen over at The Happiness Project has a great list of eight signs that you are boring another person. They are all wonderful, but I especially like the last one:8. Audience posture. Back in 1885, Sir Francis Galton wrote a paper called “The Measurement of Fidget.” He determined that people slouch and lean when bored, so a speaker can measure the boredom of an audience by seeing how far from vertically upright they are. Also, attentive people fidget less; bored people fidget more. An audience that’s sitting still and upright is interested, while an audience that’s horizontal and squirmy is bored.
As usual, I find Gretchen to be insightful, funny, and remarkably helpful -- alas, I see a bit of myself in a number of her tips and it makes me squirm. It also reminds me, however, that I have a weird obsession with the virtues of being boring. I touch on it in this post, in more detail, in Weird Ideas That Work.
There are just certain times in life that you don't want to attract attention, don't want people to listen to you very carefully, and don't want to get their emotions cranked-up --- and boredom is a perfect solution in such cases. A former Stanford administrator I knew was the master of strategic boredom. He could fairly charismatic and entertaining when he believed it was constructive. But the more controversial and heated that things became, the more dull and mind-numbing his delivery became.... I saw him defuse tense meetings on at least two occasions by lulling angry people into a listless state. It was tiring to experience, but fascinating too.