Jessica Hagy wrote the book on being interesting.
It all started with a piece she penned for Forbes a few years ago, entitled, How to Be More Interesting (In 10 Simple Steps). The article works not only because the advice is timeless (including recommendations like "explore ideas, places and opinions" and "hop off the bandwagon"), but because the simple illustrations are perfect complements. (Hagy's also an artist whose work has been translated into more than a dozen languages.)
The article went viral. So, naturally, it was turned into a book.
But Hagy's advice got me to thinking:
There's a single action one could take, that actually rolls all ten of Hagy's steps into one. I've done it for years and people repeatedly point to it as a major strength, one that they both appreciate and have learned from.
What is it?
Assume that everyone else is interesting.
How it WorksWhen you assume others are interesting, you're naturally drawn to learn more about them.
You ask questions--not in an invasive or nosy way, but out of the most innocent of motives: curiosity. Where are you from? Where did you grow up? Where have you been? Just three variations of one simple question, that could lead to hours of potential conversation--and easily draw an individual out.
When you assume others are interesting, you don't dismiss their thoughts or opinions as wrong, or strange (even when everyone else does).
Instead, you endeavor to understand why the person thinks and feels the way they do. In doing so, that person is naturally intrigued about you. As a byproduct, the other person is more open to hear and consider your thoughts and opinions--even when they disagree.
When you assume others are interesting, you explore ideas, places, and opinions (just like Hagy encourages us to do in that original essay), by viewing everyone you meet as an opportunity to learn. In turn, the other person naturally reciprocates--allowing you to share your own experience.
When you assume others are interesting, you also "minimize the swagger," as Hagy recommends. "Egos get in the way of ideas," she points out, correctly. "If your arrogance is more obvious than your expertise, you are someone other people avoid."
In contrast, showing an interest in others keeps them at the forefront, and, ironically, makes you the person everyone loves to be around. (Because who doesn't enjoy talking about themselves?)
Assuming others are interesting isn't easy in the beginning. But as with everything else, you get better with practice.
And in time, you no longer have to assume. When you assume others are interesting, you become more interesting.
Because you become one of the few who have figured it out:
Everyone has a story, and each of us can learn something from the other.
Now that's what I call...interesting.
What do you think of my method? Do you have one of your own? I look forward to reading your comments.
A version of this post originally appeared on Inc.com.
As an author and one of LinkedIn's Top Voices, I share my thoughts on business best practices and emotional intelligence weekly. If you're interested in tips on how to make emotions work for you instead of against you, subscribe to my free monthly newsletter by clicking here or contact me via email using jbariso[at]insight-global.de. (You can also reach out here on LinkedIn or via Twitter: @JustinJBariso.)
I also write for Inc. and TIME. Some other articles you might enjoy:
Originally posted on Linked IN by: Justin Bariso
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