- Repeated, perfunctory responses. A person who says, “Oh really? Oh really? That’s interesting. Oh really?” is probably not too engaged. Or a person who keeps saying, “That’s hilarious.”
- Simple questions. People who are bored ask simple questions. “When did you move?” “Where did you go?” People who are interested ask more complicated questions that show curiosity, not mere politeness.
- Interruption. Although it sounds rude, interruption is actually a good sign, I think. It means a person is bursting to say something, and that shows interest.
- Request for clarification. A person who is sincerely interested in what you’re saying will need you to elaborate or to explain. “What does that term mean?” “When exactly did that happen?”
- Imbalance of talking time. I suspect that many people fondly suppose that they usually do eighty percent of the talking in a conversation because people find them fascinating. Sometimes, it’s true…In general, though, people who are interested in a subject have things to say themselves; they want to add their own opinions, information, and experiences. If they aren’t doing that, they probably just want the conversation to end faster.
- Body position. People with a good connection generally turn fully to face each other. A person who is partially turned away isn’t fully embracing the conversation.
- Audience posture. An audience that’s upright and still is interested, while an audience that’s horizontal and squirmy is bored.
The seventh is especially helpful (worrying?) for preachers.
You can buy Gretchen’s entertaining and enlightening book here.