When People Aren't Interested In Talking About Your Hobbies
Some people have hobbies that are obscure or esoteric, or just uncommon in their area, and no one they meet seems interested in talking about them. Whenever they try, they see everyone's eyes start to glaze over, and it's not long before the subject gets changed. They find it harder to have conversations because they feel like a huge chunk of the topics they're able to speak about are off the table. They also feel it's discouraging and unfulfilling to never be able to discuss something that's so important to them. If that describes you, here are some things you can do:
Try talking about your interests in a more engaging, digestible way
Some people's mistake isn't so much that they have quirky hobbies, but that they talk about them in a dull manner. If they packaged them differently they'd get a better response. They may never reach a point where their friends are dying to hear about the subject, but they're no longer totally bored.
Before I give some specific pointers, I'll say none of this is guaranteed to work. Sometimes no matter how you dress it up, certain people won't want to chat about a particular hobby. It feels wrong to write that, like it violates some unwritten belief that every problem has a tidy solution, but it's true. You can probably think of a few things you simply have zero desire to hear about. At best you can try harder to capture people's interest, but if they don't bite you can try some of the other suggestions farther down.
Use the standard advice to avoid speaking in a boring style
These are core conversation tips that apply when you're talking about any subject:
- Don't immediately launch into a lengthy monologue. Gauge whether the other person is open to hearing what you have to say. Say something like, "So I read an article about apple cultivation the other day..." and watch their reaction. Do they perk up? Do they ask you to go on? Do they wince and go "Oh yeah?", but in an unenthusiastic, forced-polite way? If they don't seem keen, you can either say, "Yeah, but don't worry about it" or give a very succinct summary and move on.
- Even if you've got the okay to talk about your hobby, don't go on for too long, or give too much extraneous detail. Even when people are listening to someone talk about a subject they're fascinated by, they usually still like the conversation to have some back and forth interaction. If they wanted to listen to a one-sided presentation they could look one up online and watch it on their own time.
- Put some thought and structure into what you say. Don't ramble, as if you're thinking out loud and saying every hobby-related thing that pops into your head.
- Consider your audience's level of knowledge about the topic. Don't use jargon or technical names they may not understand (e.g., if you're into building PCs, don't toss out the names of a bunch of graphics cards and motherboards. To someone who's unfamiliar with them it sounds like a meaningless series of letters and numbers).
- As you're talking, monitor the other person's non-verbals. Are they eagerly listening? Are they starting to fidget and glance around the room? If they're beginning to look checked out, either wrap it up or try to do more to try to speak in an engaging way.
- Use some vocal variety and speak with a bit of energy and enthusiasm. Don't deliver information in a dry, droning monotone.
- Look at the people you're talking to. Don't stare off into space, as if you're just listening to yourself speak and not interacting with anyone in particular.
See if there's a hook or angle that may make your hobby more palatable to certain people
For example, you like collecting vintage metal lunch boxes, and recently got your hands on a pretty rare, valuable one. Your friends may not care about the specifics of the particular item, but are open to hearing the story of how you tracked it down, and the characters you met on the way - they can relate to the thrill of the hunt. Or say you're into taking apart and repairing old telephones. People may be completely uninterested in the nitty gritty technical details of your latest project, but could get on board with a more general explanation of how you enjoy it because it forces you to think in new ways.
You may be thinking, "But I want to talk about the impenetrable nitty gritty details. I don't get anything out of putting some watered down spin on things. I don't want to bring up my hobby for its own sake. I want to speak about it in depth, and bring up the aspects of it that I care about." If that applies to you, what I just suggested isn't a good fit. On the other hand, if you want to quickly fill people in on what you're into and what you've been up to lately, talking about it in a more understandable way can help.
Realize you can often have fulfilling conversations with people without going into your hobbies
A few people with the "No one wants to hear about my hobbies" issue are socially inexperienced, and mistakenly think that if they can't discuss their interests then they've got nothing to talk about. Somewhere along the line they picked up the false idea that conversations mainly revolve around speaking about hobbies. There are plenty of other things to talk about, such as:
- General updates in your life
- Your thoughts and opinions on current events
- Friends and family
- Plans for the future
- Memories and anecdotes
- Deeper thoughts on the universe and human nature
- Bantering and joking about nothing in particular
Of course, people often do discuss their interests, and groups of friends usually have some pastimes in common, but if that doesn't come up there are plenty of alternatives. Sometimes a social circle won't have any central, uniting hobbies, but everyone still likes each other for other reasons. They know to save their hobby talk for elsewhere.
This point may reassure you if you've been feeling unsure about making conversation because you think, "If I can't talk about my hobbies there are going to be a lot of awkward silences." It may also make you feel better if you're worried that you won't be able to make friends without being able to bring up every last one of your interests.
Your thinking could also be, "Duh, I know I can talk about other things, but I'd like to be able to discuss my hobbies at least a little. It's unsatisfying to never be able to bring them up." It's rarer, but your thought process also might be, "To be honest, I don't see much point in talking to people unless it's about my hobbies. They're really all I care about. I have no motivation to start a conversation with someone just to hear about what TV shows they've been watching lately." That's a limiting mindset, but maybe you're fine with feeling that way. Or maybe you'd like to try to become more interested in others.
Try to find people in your real life who are into your hobbies
This doesn't mean you have to ditch your current social circle, or find people who share your interests who you could also see yourself becoming best friends with. It may be enough just to have a bi-weekly outlet to chat about your hobbies for an hour or two. Here are some things you could try:
- Join a club or meet up group about your hobby
- Start a club or meet up group about your hobby (that's more work though, obviously)
- Join a club that's not for your exact hobby, but attracts the kinds of people who might be into it
- When you meet new people, quickly find out if they're interested in your hobby. Most won't be, but it's worth asking just in case.
- In extreme cases, move. For example, if you live in a small town and you want to be an avant garde clothing designer, you're going to find way more of your "people" in a big city with an established fashion scene.
- Another less-practical suggestion: Be willing to travel to meet other hobbyists, even if you only get to hang out with them for a few days. For example, flying to your hobby's big yearly convention.
"Discuss" your hobbies online
This isn't the same as connecting with someone over an interest in person, but in the absence of that, it may get you your "I need someone to hear my thoughts about this" fix. In fact, you may find you get more out of talking online with fellow knowledgeable enthusiasts than having a real world interaction with someone who's half-listening. Some ideas:
- Post about your hobby on a forum or online group devoted to it. If you can't find any, consider starting one of your own.
- Start a blog, write about your hobby, and interact with any commenters.
- Create a YouTube channel, and post videos where you share your thoughts on your hobby.
- If you're into a particular game, watch streams of people playing it. Participate in chat and talk to other fans. Again, possibly become a streamer yourself. Some artistic hobbies also lend themselves to streaming.
It's even possible that if you're a regular member of an online community you'll hit it off with some other members, and even get a chance to truly speak to them. You may be able to arrange to talk over the phone or video chat, or even meet in person when you're both in the same area.
If all else fails, try to just enjoy your hobby for its other benefits
It doesn't happen often, but there are some interests that are so specific or obscure that only a handful of people have them. In that case it sucks that you have no one to gab with about it, but you can still appreciate all the other ways it adds to your life. Plenty of people have hobbies their friends and family don't care about. They accept they can't bring them up, and happily enjoy their interests anyway.