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 trying out for Dos Equis next Most Interesting Man in the World.
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 because 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 as a chamber gala event or it could be a group of people you want to impress, like marketing to 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, 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 audio books or TED Talks. The point is to expand your mind and 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, because you were talking about them.
Make time to be with people whose views vary from your own. Put the debating aside and 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. Suspend your opinion and only listen to theirs. Try to understand what drives it the way a psychologist may dissect someone’s motives.
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 or more well-traveled than you. Ask them about their experiences. When they speak, listen, even if it’s not directed your way.
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.
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.
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 and rote memorization and boring curriculum, but when you are 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.
Be generous for no reason and fight the temptation to post it on social media. Let it be a secret you share with the person who benefited.
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 numbers of books written about becoming a better conversationalist, and while some of that is technique, some of it is also derived from personal growth and a desire to never stagnate. 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.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.