Be More Interesting!
“It’s more important to be interested than interesting.” A wise friend told me that once (and I’ve heard this several times since). It is truly amazing how people will open up and have deeper conversations when you are sincerely interested in their lives. Their life experiences and their interests. When it’s all about you, conversations very quickly evaporate.
Dale Carnegie was a writer and lecturer who developed well-known courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking and interpersonal skills. Born into poverty on a farm in Missouri, he authored How to Win Friends and Influence People, a bestseller that is still popular today.
Years ago I had the opportunity to take a Dale Carnegie course. Every week in class we stood in front of the group to give a talk. Sometimes it was “spur of the moment.” Other times we prepared in advance. One of the things I most enjoyed about the whole experience was interacting with folks who were completely outside of my normal life “orbit.” The course stretched me, and I would recommend it to you. Here are three of my favorite Carnegie quotes:
“Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.”
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
“Names are the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”
I read an article recently about making conversations more interesting. (I ‘m sorry I don’t know who wrote it). Here are some of ideas:
- Make your conversations more interesting
Does this sound familiar? “Hi, how are you?” “I’m fine, thanks, and you?” “Fine, thank you.” In our hurry up world, nobody seems to have time to carry on a real conversation. (Or they don’t know how). It seems to me that people are spending so much time with technology (my opinion) that they aren’t developing the ability to have face to face conversations.
- Explore other perspectives
It seems commonplace these days to try and convince another person of our point of view or we don’t express our true feelings in order to be agreeable. Instead of trying to change someone else’s mind, make a real effort to understand how they came up with their perspective.
- Use follows up questions
Asking “What do you do?” is fine, then follow up with questions about the person’s occupation. Like: “What is the biggest misconception people have about your line of work?” “What surprised you most about your current job?” “What do you wish more people understood about your work?” Be sure to be prepared to answer the “What do you do?” question in an interesting way. Think about aspects of your work people have found most interesting. (Remember it’s about the person you’re talking to—you are NOT the focus!)
- Listen and then listen some more
Most of us don’t listen very well. We’re too busy pondering our response or waiting for our turn to speak. Jumping in abruptly breaks the other person’s train of thought. It also implies that you think your ideas are more important than the other person’s. One useful listening technique is to periodically recap what you heard the other person say.
- Ask some open-ended questions
“What if” questions can energize a stagnant conversation and turn a boring conversation partner into a delightful one. For example, “What if people were allowed to talk for only one hour every day? What might be some of the consequences and benefits?” Conversations become even better when you gear “What if” questions to the other person’s strengths.
In summary, you will be more interesting when you:
- Sincerely focusing on others
- Listen well
- Ask open-ended questions
- Think about a couple “What if” questions before you start a conversation,
- Remembering that you are much more interesting when you’re sincerely interested in others.
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