Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to Be Interesting

Recognize this fellow? ...

In the Dos Equis beer commercials, he's the Most Interesting Man in the World. 

Have you ever suffered through a long flight, bus trip, or even local transit ride while sitting next to the least interesting person in the world? Don't you wish some people could be more ... interesting? Don't you sometimes wish that you could be more interesting, if not the Most Interesting Man in the World?

Take heart, Dear Readers, for this article by Eric Barker offers you seven handy hints to help you be more interesting. Here are the seven hints, with my commentary, of course ...

1. Don't be boring. If you see your conversational partner beginning to doze off, or if his or her eyes are desperately wandering about in search of relief, it's a good sign that you're boring that person to tears. On the other hand, if the person is maintaining eye contact and asking questions about what you're saying, it's a good sign that you are not being boring. Be brief, upbeat, and to the point and you'll almost always be good company. If you're getting negative signals, it's probably time to change the subject or ask the other person a question to draw him or her into the conversation.

2. Be a good listener. Let the other person talk for a while. People love to talk about themselves and they enjoy a good listener. By listening carefully to what the other person is saying, you'll pick up on topics of mutual interest that will help you advance the conversation.

3. Talk about the other person's interests. Ask people where they work, what they do, and what their their hobbies are. Ask about their children or grandchildren. This follows from the previous hint.

4. Have three good stories to tell. You should always have at least three good, preferably brief, stories on hand, ready to pull out and insert into the conversation. They should be entertaining, informative, tell people something funny or interesting about you, and be useful as springboards to further conversation. My father was great at this, and I've got lots of good stories, all of which poor Agnes has heard far too many times ... but they're interesting to other people*. A version of this was presented in a marketing class I took some years ago, in which we were told to always have three versions of an answer to the question "What do you do?": the elevator version (very short and to the point), the lunch line version (that can be pulled out when you have a little more time available ... as when you're stuck in a line), and the formal version (to use in a sales presentation, for example).

5. Try to be charismatic. Not everyone is naturally charismatic (think John Boehner). However, if you laugh, smile, use gestures, and avoid speaking in a monotone, you're halfway there. It's not just what you say that's important, it's how you say it. Practice in front of a mirror.

6. Be somewhere interesting. Where you are has a lot to do with how interesting you can be. If you have a choice of venue (where to take your date, or where to host a meeting), pick a place where you are comfortable, or that means something to you or inspires you. If you're comfortable and engaged in your surroundings, it will reflect in how you present yourself.

7. Live an interesting life. Most of us will never live lives like Indiana Jones or James Bond, but there are always things we can do to make our lives more interesting. Read widely. Spend time with interesting people. The best way to improve particular qualities in yourself is to spend time with people you admire who are already have those qualities. And always apply hint #2.

Follow these seven simple hints and, although Dos Equis may never hire you to be the successor to The Most Interesting Man in the World, you can easily be the Most Interesting Person in the Room.

Have a good day. Tell me a story. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Ask me sometime about the dance competition in which Agnes and I took first place in a tango heat in which we actually tripped and fell down in front of one of the judges.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

I found that being a good listener helps. And have an animated face. Egotists soon bore. Be genuinely interested in the other person.

Grand Crapaud said...

Great suggestions. Being able to talk about a variety of topics that another person might be interested in would help, too. Don't be one-dimensional.

Brandi said...

Excellent ideas.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I want the story on tripping in front of the judges.

Mike said...

So you really did trip the light fantastic.

Big Sky Heidi said...

To be interesting, be interested in the other person. You validate them thusly.