Sometimes you find out a friend/co-worker/niece has an interest that is outside your understanding of their regular set of interests. This can be surprising, which is normal, which is why the reaction is so normal.
But learn to bite your tongue on this one because it is massively annoying (as you probably know, since it's probably happened to you).
a) it implies that you've pigeon-holed them (which you probably have, because we all do, but again we should have the good grace to keep our bad habit to ourself)
b) it implies often some weird ideas (like, that you think bodybuilders don't normally read books, or some other stereotype)
c) related, if you have some gender or racial bias (which again, we probably all do because we're raised in a culture), this is a time it's really gonna accidentally show itself which you don't want. "I didn't realise you were into maths!" "Why is that surprising?" "Because... uh..." yeah, not great). Again, good time to bite your tongue and analyse privately later.
d) it shuts conversations down instead of opening them up. If someone's said that to you, you know it leaves you not really sure what to say in response. "Well... I do?" You feel like you have to justify your interest or explain how it does actually fit into your character stereotype or whatever.
The thing you can say instead is: basically anything. "Oh neat!" "What do you like about it?", you can probably say actually nothing, since if they're talking about something they just did or like, they can just keep talking about that without being interrupted.
This is such an easy win, seriously, you can become a slightly better person just by stopping this one impulse.
This piece was originally published in The Whippet #85 – subscribe to get the next one in your inbox!
Sign in or become a Whippet subscriber (free or paid) to add your thoughts.
Just enter your email below to get a log in link.
A newsletter for the terminally curious
Arrives in your inbox every second Thursday.