Are You Interesting?

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I recently sent a LinkedIn connection request to someone quite well-known in certain circles in the hope of seeing how we might begin to develop a productive and enjoyable relationship of value. My request was accepted and followed quite quickly by a message saying that they’d be very glad to connect with me. Amongst other things, “you seem like a really interesting person,” they said. Initially feeling somewhat flattered, I began to wonder about what it is that makes someone be “interesting”. Am I evidently trying to be interesting? Did I ever intend to be? Are you interesting? Would you like to be?

A quick search on Google delivered the unsurprisingly vast list of thousands of pages and articles on this. Well, at least it seems that the subject interests many people. So in light of what some apparently knowledgeable experts seem to be saying and considering the character and behavior of some really interesting people I have known in my life and work, I thought I’d share my own focused thoughts on this with you. I hope that as you read through you’ll find some value in these ideas as they progress. I’ll be delighted to see your feedback and to be of any further help if you’d like. So do comment please and be in touch!

Definition of “Interesting”: arousing curiosity or interest; catching, attracting or holding the attention and making others want to learn more about something or to be involved in something.
Well, who doesn’t want to be just that?! What does it take?

Gain Knowledge.
In a nutshell it’s quite simple really. How truly interesting you are stems from the kinds of knowledge you have and your ability and style of applying and sharing that knowledge. This is really where it all begins. So you must expand your range of knowledge and the depth of understanding you take in and then consider the relevant applications of that knowledge. You know that today we have more access than ever to a world full of information and things you have never experienced or properly considered. So Read, See, Listen, and Taste new things. And don’t forget, the environments we encounter and engage in affect us at least in some way, almost automatically. So mix with interesting people too; and watch, listen and learn. But remember, whatever your source for ‘interesting’ knowledge, you must take (make) the time to actually think through what you have learned.

Open Up.
Be open to others’ ideas and be open to differing opinions and points of view. Challenge yourself. Hang your presumptions and assumptions somewhere safe if you must and be open to cultures and attitudes that may be totally contrary or even opposed to your own and those within your regular or typical circles. Don’t just be “tolerant”; that’s a very poor minimum. Be open – and be open to being ‘accepting’.

Try new things.
Yes, try new things. More than any other point you’ll read here, this will most likely mean going beyond your ‘comfort zone’. But it’s essential. As the well-known adage implies: “do what you’ve always done and you’ll be as you’ve always been”. From the ‘smaller’ opportunities to do something you haven’t before to the seemingly more ‘difficult’ or “far out” things to try; do things that are new to you and say things are new for you. You don’t have to go crazy or do crazy things – absolutely not. And this “new me” approach doesn’t mean a no-holds-barred ‘carte blanche’ to behave inappropriately without concern for the feelings of others or the potentially detrimental outcomes of your actions. But, within reason, don’t fear the surprise that others may have seeing you do something seemingly ‘out of character’; you can always calmly explain “I’m trying new things”!

Be pro-active in your relationships, all of them.
Don’t wait for others to open the next discussion, to open the next door to opportunity or to deepen the relationship in some way. This applies to all your relationships, personal and business, spoken and written, individual or those you establish with larger groups in any shape or form. At the right time, be pro-active, not presumptuous; but confident and with the right ‘message’ and tone that encourages interest and interaction.

Share a lot.
Share knowledge, share insights, share ideas, share true stories… and pay attention to feedback. Then, if necessary, reassess, redefine, reformat … and share again.

Ask “why”, ask “how” and ask “show me please”.
Curiosity and inquisitiveness are great. The brighter and stronger and longer your desire to “know more” burns inside the more you will work towards finding the answers, information and ideas you need and the more likely you are to discover, learn and use ‘new’ abilities and skills. Asking such questions begins great conversations, attracts input and delivers knowledge and know-how; others will be glad to talk to you, to share and to teach you what they know.

By all means, be a curator, be a distributor of sorts; but be honest and be a “definer”.
There’s nothing wrong in passing on or pointing others to what you have seen or learned elsewhere. What may seem obvious, common or well-known to you may be news to someone else; that does not make them ignorant or less generally knowledgeable than you. It just means you have more opportunities to bring interesting information to a discussion. There’s no plagiarism in sharing the bright ideas or insights of others. It’s silly of course to withhold credit when due and when you do you are being honest and helpful at once. Indeed, when necessary or relevant, if you can further develop an existing idea, define a concept or solution differently or offer “your take” on something that matters, that makes you all the more interesting.

Be Happy.
Be someone people “love” to be around, if only because your presence makes for a “happy” and “pleasant” atmosphere. No doubt there are many things in this world that irk you and indeed we all know that we are often surrounded by injustice, pain and a clearly imperfect state of affairs. At the very least remember, we are all going through one challenge or another; nobody likes a constant whiner and nobody likes a constant complainer. There is a time and place for everything. Your “mission” to correct the issues that trouble you most is commendable and perhaps even inspirational. Bravo. Really. But, don’t make that all you ever (eventually) talk about. “Happiness” is far more attractive and contagious. Let others feel compelled to ask you what your secret for ever-present happiness is!

Be Humorous.
Be fun and be good humored. Be light, be easy, and see the funny side of things. Don’t take yourself too seriously either. It’s usually a sign of deeply rooted pride actually (and often reflects a certain degree of insecurity and feeling unfulfilled or frustrated). So allow yourself to laugh at yourself. This shows you to be smart and able to make interesting observations and associations as well as truly open-minded, forgiving and generous too. And who doesn’t like a good laugh?!

Be Worthy.
There is little that makes you more interesting than your achievements. This might seem a little harsh, but, it is the truth. You have to ‘deserve’ or ‘earn’ people’s interest; it’s a privilege to have it and a gift to naturally ‘command’ it. So unless you’re planning to be known as the ever-vicarious ‘storyteller’ (or gossip or ignorant big mouth) or the ‘butt’ of the joke rather than the ‘catch’… you’d better get cracking! It’s all very well knowing random trivia or being first with the latest trending hot news or even a few good stories, but your opinions and perspectives (and presence) don’t matter very much to people who are interested in quality relationships and interaction. Have you effected positive change somehow? Have you overcome personal or business challenges? Have you saved a life? Have you killed someone? Have you succeeded in some way that others could learn from? Is yours a story that others might inspire others or is there something in there from which others could learn or build upon?  You don’t’ have to be unique or particularly ‘different’. But you’ll find that the more you have actually ‘done’ – quantitatively and/or qualitatively – the more ‘impact’ you have had on the world around you, the more interested others will be in you and what you have to say. C’est la vie. So go “be”, as best you can be, in ways that matter.

Be Humble.
Good people love a person who is truly humble. In fact, good people love an honest person. *Humility* is a wonderful trait borne of one’s true perspective of one’s own character, abilities, achievements and failings too. This honesty also keeps us aware of the input of others towards our successes and the helpful gifts of life one has enjoyed along the way. So being appropriately humble tells those around you that you have the good sense to realize that there are at least some others (elsewhere) who have similar talents, know-how and experience and that you don’t think you “know it all”. Moreover, being humble lets others know that you still have ambition to learn and to achieve; that you strive for betterment… and that their input would be valuable and appreciated by you.

Be (a little bit) Mysterious.
It’s true. Intrigue, mystery, the unknown… all attractive, literally. Good relationships are formed throughout an unfolding process and shared evolving journey; there’s an almost ‘romantic’ give and take that plays itself out over time. Interesting people know this.  There is much to be gained from knowing when to say less, when to stay silent and indeed when to hold back in conversation. It’s important at least to sense when it is more advantageous to withhold information, when to allow the unknown to remain without clarification and an art to know how to not answer questions and how to classily leave those around us to wonder for themselves and perhaps to come to their own conclusions or to be left really wanting to know more… and yet always still smiling. A careful balance between pro-activity and self-control might seem shrewd or manipulative– and maybe it is somewhat so – but obviously we’re not talking about acting secretively, false pretenses of any kind or any form of unfair ambiguity. We’re thinking, sometimes, less is more. It takes good intentions at the outset, excellent judgement along the way and of course the right kind of desirable charm to pull off well. But when you do, you’ll know.

Once again, I’ll be delighted to see your feedback and to offer clarification if necessary or be of any further help. So leave a comment here or do be in touch! I’ll definitely do my best to get back to you very quickly too.

Looking forward to hearing from you very soon,
Keep it real; keep it interesting!