About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.

I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.


Nerd Q&A: How Can I Say Interesting Things?

Alan Turkus - Conversation
I am a boring nerd who isn't considered cool at all. I generally talk about things which seem boring to others. How should I be interesting and cool?

The easiest way would be to hang around people who are interested in the same things you are. They will find the things you talk about interesting, and it will be much easier for you to be cool.

If you regularly find yourself surrounded by people who think your topics of conversation are boring, you should ask yourself why you're with those people.

Seriously, your free time is limited. Spend it with people who appreciate you.

OK, sometimes you have to interact with people who aren't involved in the same stuff you are, in which case it helps to brush up on some popular and safe topics such as sports, movies, or maybe local news that has a positive feel. You don't have to be an expert, just do a little research to get a basic idea of what the popular topics are. In fact you can admit your limitations by saying, "I don't really follow X, but I hear that Y is doing something interesting. Have you heard about it?" Then, you can let the other people talk. They will think you're on the ball even though you only have a basic idea what's going on. When in doubt, say, "I didn't hear about that, tell me more."

Make sure to listen and remember what the person tells you so you can respond appropriately if they ask you a question. You don't have to lie, but it's good to say encouraging things like, "You really know a lot about X," or, "I'm usually so occupied with my work in Y that I don't know anything about X. I'm glad you can keep me up to date on it."

These tactics work really well with people you only spend a few minutes with at a time or people you only see a few times a year. For classmates and co-workers this approach will get you through 90 percent of the conversations you experience.

For the remaining 10% you're probably talking to someone who is actually interested in the things you have to say, so don't worry so much about being boring and just talk about the things you're interested in.

As for being cool, this is a state of mind more than a method of conversation. If you're ever caught off guard, remember this one rule: Don't Panic. Take a breath, smile, and ask the person in front of you to tell you more about the amazing thing that just came out of his mouth. Be willing to admit when you don't know about something because people will be more than happy to explain it to you, and all you have to do is listen.

People love good listeners.

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