How can I be more interesting?

20 September, 2014 (01:40) | conversation, listening, Personal Success, small talk | By: lifecoach

I get this question a lot.  Many of us want to avoid small talk, yet we don’t always know what to say beyond talking about the weather.  The truth of the matter is, many people experience some amount of shyness in social situations which may have them worry about whether they’re interesting enough.

women talking

People are often surprised when I respond by asking the following question: How do you help the other person feel like they are interesting?  You may have heard the saying – ‘be more interested rather than interesting’.  It’s much easier to be curious about someone than to agonize over what brilliant thing you can say.  I used to be painfully shy, so when I first learned this, it was a huge relief!  Being curious and listening intently to the other person leads to a more positive experience for both of you.  Here’s 3 tips to help you with this process:

1. Listen more than you talk.
Ask open ended questions that get people to talk about themselves.  There is no right or wrong here.  What you ask depends on what you’re naturally curious about, whether it’s your first meeting or the 50th, and the particular circumstances surrounding the meeting.  Here’s a few examples: What’s the best movie you’ve seen this year and what made it special?  What’s something about you that I might not have guessed?  Where did you last go on vacation and what was the best part?  If you’re not sure how to get started, and you genuinely dislike small talk, say that!  You can say something like: ‘I really don’t enjoy small talk very much.  I’d rather learn things from or about the people I meet’.  Most of the time, people will be relieved to hear you say this.  You can lead the way towards a more interesting conversation!

2. Resist the temptation to ‘identify’ with what they tell you.
If they talk about their vacation to the Bahamas, resist chiming in with all the details of your recent trip.  Instead, give them the space to tell their story, and acknowledge them by nodding, and/or smiling.  Ask them questions to deepen the conversation.  Of course you can share about your vacation after they’ve finished.

3. Acknowledge them in some way.
Let them know what you appreciate about their story and why.  What really stood out?  If you’re not sure what to say, think about the values you ‘heard’.  The simplest definition for values:  they are what matters most to someone.  For example: If they repeatedly mention their family, you can say something like: “Wow, I can tell you really value spending time with your family!” Other values to listen for: integrity, compassion, connection, collaboration and adventure, just to name a few.  Have fun with this and say what feels resonant to you!

Why bother doing this?
When you ask people about themselves, they light up, and guess what?  Very soon your shyness disappears!  You get to find out things about this person you might not have learned otherwise, and they in turn feel ‘understood’ by you.

When people feel they’ve been ‘heard’ they experience a flood of positive emotions.  This in turn has them feeling good about the person who took the time to listen to them, you!  An enjoyable person is an interesting person, and you’ve achieved your goal!  Easy right?

Want to learn more?
If you want to learn more about how to engage in heartfelt, meaningful conversations to improve your relationships at home and at work, contact me for a 3-session Connect Like a Coach (TM) introductory package.
I’ll teach you many of the tools I’ve learned and developed over my decade-plus coaching, and will coach you toward mastery in this life skill.  Just $297.00 for 3 sessions.  Limited time only.

Just ListenP.S. This article doesn’t address those people whom you might describe as emotionally draining.  They will usually do all the talking without any regard or consideration for you, and they may not get the message that they too can reap the rewards of being a good listener.  You may need to be patient with this, because after awhile many people do come around.  For tips on dealing with people who never ‘get it’, I highly recommend Mark Goulston’s book: Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.  Inside is an excellent chapter on how to deal with various ‘toxic’ people.

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