While this originally was meant to be a networking article, becoming more interesting is something that can benefit every area of your life, from striking up a random conversation with strangers to acing your next job interview.
Interesting Is in the Eyes of the Audience
First, my interesting may not be your interesting. There’s no special pill to take or drink to consume to become more interesting. It’s not a universal application.
But you can become more interesting to a particular audience in these ways:
Do Your Research
Establish who it is you want to become more interesting to and do your research. This could be an individual, like wanting to meet and talk to a particular head of industry at one of our Chamber events or it could be a group of people you want to impress, like Millennials. Whether a person or group, use social media and the internet to do research on their interests, concerns, things they’ve published or curated, and other personal information. But not too personal. If we’re talking about a person and not a demographic, stop just short of bringing up personal things you know about them and their family thanks to the fact that they don’t know how to use security features on Facebook.
If you’re trying to expand your views and develop more empathy, reading is one of the best ways to do that. It provides insight into thoughts, cultures, and history with perspective. If you’re not a reader, try audiobooks or TED Talks. If you want to expand your mind, you don’t do that by listening only to yourself and your circle of like-minded friends.
If you focus the conversation on the person you’re trying to impress and ask worthwhile questions of them, they will most likely think the conversation (and thus you) was very interesting. After all, most people adore talking about themselves.
Make time to be with people whose views vary from your own. Put the debating aside. Try to understand why they feel the way they do about the issues they support and the ones they don’t. Experience these topics removed from the emotion of how you feel about them. For instance, if you have an acquaintance who supports a different political candidate than you do, ask them probing questions about why they do. Don’t make this about proving them wrong or grilling them on their choices. Suspend your opinion and only listen to theirs. Try to understand what drives it the way a psychologist may dissect someone’s motives. You may realize you have common ground or a better understanding of the other side.
Surround Yourself with Smarter People
Whether you’re hiring, dining, or playing racquetball, spend at least some of your time with people who are smarter than you, more well-traveled than you, more athletic, or funnier. Ask them about their experiences. When they speak, listen and follow up with questions. Adopt an attitude that everyone you meet has something to teach you.
Take Up a New Hobby or Learn Something New
Attack your bucket list with wild abandon or simply try an online class or a new hobby. If you don’t have a lot of time, check out YouTube. You can learn anything on that site. Some Alameda businesses also offer DIY classes.
Experience foreign cultures and explore alone. Take time to listen to what’s going on around you. Talk to strangers. Everyone has a story. Learning theirs will make yours more interesting too.
Don’t have the time or budget to visit the pyramids? Then just talk to other business owners about their experiences. Talk to your customers about things they’re interested in and soak it all in like a sponge. You’ll not only hear some great stories but will get to know a little more about what they want and need as well. With the internet, there are countless ways to become a “phone” traveler too through videos and livestreams. Plane tickets not required.
Accept that Learning as an Adult Is Different
Many people refuse to read or take online classes because they associate learning with the drudgery of school–rote memorization and boring curriculum. But when you are the master of your own ship and can steer the course (of your courses), learning becomes much more enjoyable. Give it a chance.
Note of caution: while you may enjoy it more, it may also take more repetition for the ideas to sink in.
Embrace a Cause
You’ll meet new people and do some good.
Look for Connections
As you absorb these new experiences and learning, don’t place them in boxes in your head as if you were organizing the garage. Instead, look for applications for your new knowledge and experiences, and connections to others and ideas.
Don’t Ever Try to Be the Most Interesting Person in the Room
If you are, there’s nothing to gain.
A Final Word on Becoming More Interesting
There are many books written about becoming a better conversationalist. While some of that is technique, some of it is also derived from personal growth and a desire to avoid stagnation. The internet has placed near limitless learning opportunities in front of us that are available all day, every day. Using this knowledge availability as a stepping stone to expand our horizons and become life-long learners will not only make us more interesting but help our businesses remain relevant during times when “staying the course” isn’t advisable.