Are you interested or interesting or boring? What makes us “interesting” to others? Could being interested in others have something to do with that?
Interested or Interesting (Audio)
How interested are you in other people around you? Do you care? If I were to ask people that know you, what do you think they might say about you and your interest in them?
Also, how interesting do you think you are to others around you? You know, would they call you an interesting person? Or could you even run the risk of being labelled “somewhat boring”? What makes us “interesting” to others, do you think?
Background to interested or interesting
I found the following dictionary definitions of these two words:
Interested – having or showing curiosity, fascination, or concern about something or someone.
Interesting – engaging or exciting and holding the attention or curiosity.
I thought these synonyms for interesting were useful too: absorbing, arresting, consuming, engrossing, enthralling, fascinating, gripping, immersing, intriguing, involving, riveting.
What makes us “interesting”?
When we speak of someone being “interesting” we often think of what makes them different, don’t we? Perhaps it’s their looks or their dress or maybe their hobbies, or they might have an unusual profession or different views? Or could it be their ENTHUSIASM!or their charisma? Maybe it’s a collection of these attributes that makes them appear “interesting” to us; something that we observe about them that “stands out” or perhaps serves to attract us to them?
Have you noticed that the words different or unusual appear in that paragraph? Is that what it is that contributes to us being interesting? That we stand out from what we all consider “normal”?
I have written a lot about people being driven by a purpose. That we love to follow someone that is going somewhere; that gives us confidence in their path that we can get inspired by. Aren’t these often the people we also call interesting?
What keeps us on top of our game?
Of course what keeps us fresh and marketable and “interesting” to prospective employers or bosses or clients is that we remain “on top of our game”; that we keep ourselves “sharp” and keep ourselves “hungry” and keep ourselves at the top of our skill-set and relevance. I’m going to assume that to be the case for you, OK? I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this is part of being “interesting”, won’t you?
In An Extraordinary Life I spoke about extraordinary people being ordinary people like you and me that have chosen to do something extra; that they envision and then lay out and play out their life being a “masterpiece”, rather than a boring old collection of same old same old every year in and out.
That would suggest that being interesting is something driven by what we represent or do (as in What defines us?). Or is it something observed by others as in being in “the eyes of the beholder”? Maybe it’s a matter of perspective? Akin to “the grass is greener on the other side”, could it be that we will often play ourselves down or classify ourselves on the “boring side” and fall into the trap of seeing others to be more charismatic or successful etc?
I’m sure you’ll expect that I’m going to say that being interesting is a decision, right? Correct. I am. I’ve suggested that in many a blog, and have really come to believe that. We can choose to be interesting or boring. It doesn’t just happen to some and not to others. It happens to those that choose for it to be so. Anyone that has worked with a coach will have come to learn and believe that.
What I would like to focus on for the rest of this article however is based on a very simple notion: that one way to make sure that you are “interesting to other people” is to be “interested in them”. Let me explain what I mean by that.
Are you known as the conversationalist?
What I learned in my multilevel marketing grooming was that to be considered a “great conversationalist” all one had to do was ask leading “open” questions that got the other person talking (mainly about themselves). That way they did all the talking and I did all the listening and was subsequently labeled a great conversationalist. Interesting, isn’t it? Because I was interested in them, they called me a conversationalist, which is akin to calling me or finding me interesting, right? Please be reminded that the subject most people are interested in is WIIFM (what’s in it for me) and the subject most people are interested in talking about is – themselves. So let’s get them doing just that.
Interested or Interesting as Soft skills
In my soft skills grooming I teach my clients the concept of “taking their eyes off themselves” and to “put them on the others”; those that they lead or that they are working together with or those they wish (or need) to influence. Those of you that know me will know that I subscribe to the notion that “what goes around, comes around” and also that “if I can help you get what you want, that you will be more willing to help me get what I want”. I have learned that if you now couple all three of these above notions together, that you will more often than not be found to be “interesting”. And all that came from being interested – in them.
Think about your relationships with those around you – both personally and professionally. Can you relate to what I’m talking about here? Can you reflect on certain situations you experienced recently where the above would be found to be true? Or perhaps you haven’t consciously noticed that yet and now that we have brought it into your “RAM” or conscious awareness, you may well observe and notice this working first around you and then perhaps also for you?
How good are your listening skills?
You have probably also gathered that a lot of the above starts with good listening skills. These are often the basis for visible (or should I say audibly) enhanced “soft skills” which we also often call interpersonal skills or social skills or what is often also referred to as “emotional intelligence”. In her book “Time to think”, author and coach Nancy Kline suggests that “the quality of my listening enhances the quality of your thinking”, because you don’t need to fear being interrupted, or have your sentences finished for you or to be “grandstanded” with an even better idea – you are able to think (and articulate) your thought or idea all the way through to its conclusion. In my blog Are you listening? I expand on this notion some more.
As professionals (aren’t we all a professional in our chosen field?) we think that our value proposition comes from our knowledge. While that is probably true, if that is what we are selling, it is the exaggerated talking or telling of that knowledge that puts people off, right?
I have learned and now strongly teach that our value proposition is substantially enhanced if instead of spouting out all our knowledge, we ask the right (interested) questions of the person we are speaking or selling to and enable them to articulate their needs or their pain-points or what it is that they want or need (often just to get it off their chest). And that we keep following up to be sure they “have got it all out” before we have then “earned the right” to make our pitch or impart our knowledge. Then we can speak and pitch entirely on what really matters to them with real relevance and real focus. Through a much narrower content (less is more, remember) and again having been interested in them (by listening) you will have raised their respect of you and their trust in you. Can you see how this can help your relationship and your influence?
So, can you relate to the key message here: that to be interesting, we need first to be interested in the others around us? That this, if practiced with genuine interest we can enhance our rapport and relationships with those around us that matter?
Can you sense that this “being interesting” is an attitude? That to be seen as interesting is a choice that we can influence? That it is reflected in our behaviour; our “autopilot”? That if we ourselves don’t find ourselves very interesting that we can do something about that – ourselves? Isn’t it ironic, that to do so we might have to start by paying a little attention to the way we see ourselves – that is to become interested (or curious) about why it is we see ourselves the way we do? And that if we don’t like what we find, that we can do something about it?
Go on, why not accord yourself this reflection and depending on what you find, perhaps it is just a matter of a little “fine-tuning” to get your attitude right? And if you think it’s a little more than that, why not find yourself a good coach to help you do so and then hold you accountable to the outcome you choose to want?
Go on, why not become interested and invest a little in yourself to become more interesting – to you – and to those that matter around you? What if you could?