When you’re an interesting person, people want to connect with you. They want to work with you, hang out with you, or work for you.
Candidly, being interesting is a major advantage in both your personal and professional lives.
An interesting person can’t easily be categorized, stereotyped... or ignored.
When you meet an interesting person, you don’t know what to make of them. You can’t figure them out easily.
You sense there are facets to them that you haven’t yet discovered.
Interesting people compel you to pay attention to them.
There are two ways to be interesting.
1) Do things that are atypical for your peer group.
If you’re a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, take up knitting. Your peers won’t know what to make of you.
Knitting is a counterstereotype of the MMA fighter that wants to beat up his or her opponent.
Such warriors don’t typically knit.
If you’re a McKinsey partner, take up pottery making.
Exactly... the two don’t usually go together.
When I first became a dad, I started reading Cosmo Teen Magazine. When I’d go to a parenting class, all the other parents (90% of whom were women) looked at me oddly.
When I explained that I wanted to know what the enemy would be teaching my daughter in a few years, their eyes lit up. They got it.
Suddenly, I was an interesting person.
(Hint: Buying and reading a magazine you don’t normally ever read is hardly rocket science.)
When you’ve done some unusual things, all you have to do is mention them. Even if you’re a socially awkward introvert, other people will ask you questions because they find you... interesting.
Now for the other way to be an interesting person...
2) Be a good conversationalist.
To be considered interesting, simply be interested in the other person.
In social conversations:
a) Ask the other person questions for which you actually want to know the answer.
b) Listen to understand the other person (as opposed to pretending to listen when you’re actually just waiting for enough time to pass so you can say what you want to say).
c) Ask your next question based on something they said in the last 60 seconds that you’re genuinely curious to know.
95% of people do not do this.
Their social conversations follow standard “small talk” rituals.
Here's one well-known one here in the United States:
“Hi, how are you?”
“How about you?”
“I’m fine too.”
In this ritual, most people that ask “how are you?” do not actually want to know “how you’re doing.”
Second, most people listen to other people incorrectly.
You can genuinely listen to someone to understand them.
You can go through the motions of listening when what you’re really doing is using the pause in your talking to formulate what you want to say next.
When you listen to understand, the other person can tell. When they notice you’re actually hearing them, they'll often open up and share all kinds of information with you that they don’t usually share.
When you take the time to really get to know someone, you’ll discover they are fascinating.
I spoke to one woman at an industry conference that I discovered was a refugee from Cambodia.
One man I was speaking to revealed within the first 20 minutes of talking that he had been shot by police four times.
People I barely know routinely tell me about their addictions, suicide attempts, affairs, financial problems, biggest dreams, worst fears, and a whole lot more.
When you truly listen to another person and take a genuine interest in them, they will see you as an interesting person.
So in a nutshell:
1) Do atypical things;
2) Be a good listener.
This nugget of advice is just one simple example of the hundreds of “tools” that I share with members of my Inner Circle mentorship group.
If you’d like to see more examples of the career and life tools that I teach my Inner Circle members, just complete the form below.