April 3, 2014

Being Interested vs. Being Interesting, part 1

Have you ever known anyone who was unable to let somebody else tell a story without interrupting to match it and/or try to top it with one of their own? I heard a quote recently that sums this up nicely, I think.

"It's better to be interested than interesting."

I have learned (and I really believe this is true) that you'll get so much farther in life if you are interested in what other people have to say.

Everybody you will ever meet just wants to be heard and be listened to. People don't care that you're trying to be interesting all the time. In fact, it's rather off-putting.

Not only is it a common courtesy as part of polite society to listen to others, but it is also a gracious act to show them that what they say matters.

I meet people all the time in my work as a marketing consultant as well as at different blogging and social media events. And I can't tell you how often I encounter people who insist on being the center of attention, not giving a flip about what anyone else might have to say.

At first glance this behavior appears to come from an abundance of confidence, but I call foul on this. My hunch is that people who behave in this way are actually painfully self-conscious and are trying to make up for something they think is lacking.

Think about the last time you were in a social setting with a person who wouldn't stop talking about everything on their mind, never once stopping to say "but enough about me, how are you?"

Now consider a time when you felt invisible and someone made a special point to say a kind word to you or ask you to share what was on your mind. It probably felt pretty great. As opposed to the scenario above, which can just leave you feeling tired and drained.

This post is as much for me as anybody else. I want to remember this always, keeping it at the forefront of my mind. Especially as my social calendar grows and I encounter more and more people.

I want to be kind. I want others to feel at ease around me. I want them to feel like their thoughts and ideas matter (because they do!). I want everyone I meet to know their inherent value. And I want to quit trying to be interesting and just be interested instead.

Check back for part 2, The Importance of Being Interested in Opportunities.