I know that we all get sucked into boring dinner appointments from time to time, and they are one of the hardships we are called to suffer through in life, but surely there must be some way to benefit from these uncomfortable engagements. Is dinner with your wife’s former roommate and her husband destined to be a complete waste of time, or can you actually derive some value from it? There are at least three ways in which such appointments can be made productive:
At a boring dinner appointment, if you just go with the flow of the discussion you are likely to be bored out of your mind. Instead, you can choose to take control of the conversation and use it for your own purposes. One way to use a group setting productively is to brainstorm. You must have some problem in your life that you can discuss openly with others. For example, you might be deciding where to go on vacation next summer. Use the dinner appointment to generate ideas and potential solutions. In casual conversation, ask your boring dinner mates how they would answer your problem. Their answers may or may not be useful, but at a minimum they will indulge your own needs to think and discuss your problem.
If you are in the mood for entertainment rather than productivity, you can use a boring dinner appointment as a humorous experience. One way to do this is to sit back and enjoy the situational humor that is inevitably present in an uncomfortable dinner. Laugh inwardly when there is another awkward pause and someone makes a lame comment to fill it. Another way to enjoy humor in a boring dinner appointment is to actually create a humorous situation. You can do this by making extreme off-the-wall comments and seeing how people react. Or you can raise topics that you know will be uncomfortable for people and watch them squirm.
Ensure that this never happens again. If you are resigned to your misery into boring dinner appointment, you can at least use the time to think inwardly about how to avoid ever doing this again. Observe your boring dinner mates and consider how best to avoid interacting with them in the future. By paying attention to things they say about themselves, you might discover ways to avoid contact with them.
A boring dinner appointment is unlikely to be very enjoyable on its own, but you can benefit from it in the three ways described above. Like any situation, this one can be turned to your advantage if you are intelligent and creative about it.