It does come down to energy drain, that and distance again. If the connection takes some explaining, or involves revealing personal information, I may just not want to get into it, and will settle for the straightforward "I like your scarf" comment, or more likely, just say nothing at all. The kind of manipulation I describe above
is draining to me, because it involves emulating behavior that does not come naturally and that requires much effort. By comparison, the indirectness of deflecting questions or providing "Schrodinger's cat" responses, as Skylights so aptly puts it, is almost effortless. I suppose it is because I readily see an overlay of many possible conversational pathways (conversational chess, almost), and can provide a response that keeps the largest possible number of them valid.
This is probably just due to how Ni sees things.