Most people have a secret wish to be more interesting. How do I know?
Google told me. This morning I logged on to do my monthly check of our website analytics. As I settled in with my coffee to peruse our latest numbers, search hits and demographics, I stumbled upon an interesting little finding.
While scrolling through our top search terms (what people search to get to the Science of People website) I found this phrase was at the top of the list:
“How to Be Interesting”
This intrigued me. Why? Because it is not a word I often hear people use. I hear people say:
- I want to be more memorable
- I want to me more charismatic
- I want to be more impressive
- I want to be more powerful
- I want to be more attractive
- I want to be more successful
But, I almost never hear ‘I want to be more interesting’—at least not in person. Interesting it seems is a secret wish, a secret we tell only to search engines. Well, worry no more!
Here’s the good news:
You are interesting.
I know you have incredible things about you. Secret wishes. Fascinating ideas.
We just have to activate them. But there is one problem:
The biggest barrier to being more interesting is fear.
Fear causes use to doubt our interestingness. In fear mode we:
- Worry about people judging our ideas
- Doubt ourselves
- Are afraid what people will think of us
So we hide what’s interesting about us. We keep our ideas inside. We don’t share our true selves. Bottom line:
Your fear of being uninteresting makes you uninteresting.
Fear shuts us down. It not only shuts down are desire to share interesting things, it also shuts down our desire to do interesting things.
If you are worried you are not interesting, your fear prevents you from trying interesting things, talking about interesting topics and engaging with interesting people. It’s like this:
When fear blocks you from being interesting it makes you:
- Less memorable
- Less charismatic
- Less impressive
- Less powerful
- Less attractive
- Less successful
But guess what? You are in direct control of how interesting a person you are. Interestingness and laziness are inversely proportional. I call this the lazy law:
The Lazy Law
The lazier you are, the less interesting you will be.
The more proactive you are, the more interesting you will be.
Have you ever met a lazy talker? They don’t take ownership of their ideas or the conversation. Here’s what it’s like talking to an uninteresting person:
Uninteresting people are lazy.
- They don’t do interesting things.
- They don’t think interesting thoughts.
- They expect you to do all the talking.
- They want to be entertained by the people around them.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! All you have to do is:
FIGHT THE LAZY!
Here’s how you can fight the lazy and bring on the interesting.
Here’s how you can be a more interesting person in 5 steps:
Step #1: Stop Doing Stupid Uninteresting Things
Oh wow, you watch Netflix? How interesting! Do you watch it on your iPad or computer? NO! This is not interesting. If you come home every day after work and watch the same shows everyone else is watching and do the lowest common denominator of activities, then you have no chance of being interesting. Here’s what lazy people do:
- They watch TV every day
- They eat at the same restaurants over and over again
- They go to the same vacation spot every year
- They only read the books that were assigned in high school
- They spend hours checking their social media feeds
- They talk about the weather
- They expect other people to do all the talking
These are all default topics. Don’t stick with the default settings. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Don’t watch what everyone else is watching.
If you want to be a more interesting person, you have to do interesting things.
Here’s how you can level up your life and dial down your laziness:
- Try a new restaurant you have driven by a million times but never tried
- Create a bucket list and pledge to do one activity every month
- Go to the movie theater and watch a movie that you would never normally choose
- Sign up for a workout class that you have never done before
- Pick up a magazine you would never normally read and explore it cover to cover
- Start a learning bucket list and learn one new skill
- Say yes to the next 5 requests — no matter what they are
Step #2: Stop Asking About Stupid Uninteresting Things
Being interesting is about doing interesting things, but the flip side is being interested in other people’s interesting things.
You become interesting when you are interested in other people’s interestingness.
Lazy people bring out the uninteresting side in other people. They:
- Ask boring questions like ‘What do you do?’
- Ask ‘How are you?’ and don’t really mean it
- Talk about the weather
- Ask what TV shows people are watching
Why even bother with these questions? What’s the point of asking boring questions? You don’t learn anything and you make the person you are with even less interesting. Here’s how you can level up your life and be more interesting with every person you meet:
- Ask someone about the weirdest thing they have ever eaten.
- Ask someone what’s on their bucket list and if you can help them accomplish any of it.
- Ask someone about the movie that most changed their life.
- Ask someone about a new skill they are learning.
- Ask someone about their personal passion project.
- Ask someone what their New Year’s Resolutions were and if they accomplished them.
Break auto-pilot and social scripts with your questions — you will be rewarded with great answers.
Step #3: Consume Interesting Things
We consume all day long. We consume food and drink, we consume media, we consume information.
What you consume makes up who you are.
Lazy people are uninteresting because they consume uninteresting things:
- They read news from the default browser homepage
- They get updates from friends from their social media feeds instead of actually talking to them.
- They eat fake food from vending machines or freezers.
- They consume media and don’t question the source.
- They read from sources that already confirm their beliefs.
- They only watch blockbuster movies.
- They only read best sellers.
Yes, it’s easier to stick with the default. It’s easier to eat what’s given to you. It’s easier to read and watch what everyone else is reading and watching.
But who said easy was fun? It certainly isn’t interesting.
- Ask your local librarian for his or her 5 favorite books of all time and read them.
- Ask your role model for a movie that changed his or her life and go watch it.
- Read a news source that is known for being the opposite of your political views and see what you learn.
- Find a new favorite news columnist.
- Read books that stimulate fascinating conversations.
Step #4: Ask People About the Interesting Things They Are Consuming
It’s hard to network, make memorable conversation and build connection. But you can do it! You just have to fight to be interesting by breaking out of autopilot. One of the easiest ways to stimulate interesting conversation is to ask people about:
- What they think
- How they think
- What intrigues them
- What they are learning
- How they learn
- Weird things they have seen/eaten/done/heard
- Surprising things they have seen/eaten/done/heard
Decide to become an interesting detective.
Decide that you are going to uncover every interesting tidbit about every person you meet.
If you expect people to be interesting, they often rise to your expectations.
Here’s a little mental trick I use…I assume that every person I meet has a secret back story and I have to write an article about them tomorrow. First, it informs my questions to be more specific. Second, I assume they are already interesting — I just need to uncover what it is.
Step #5: Hang Out with Interesting People
The final step to being interesting is to find interesting people to hang out with. Typically, interesting people hang out together—and now that’s you! Interesting people encourage the people around them to do interesting things, to talk about interesting topics and engage with interesting ideas. Let’s quickly take stock:
Who is the most interesting person you know?
Who is the funniest person you know?
Who is the most well-read person you know?
Who is the most well-traveled person you know?
Who is the strangest person you know?
Thought of someone for each prompt? Good! Now go hang out with them. They are your interesting tribe.
Had trouble answering those prompts? Then you need to build your tribe.
Learn how to make friends as adults (non-awkwardly).
Even doing one of the interesting things in this blog post will help you be more interesting.
Being interesting is about living a life that’s worth talking about.
Bottom Line: If you want to be interesting, put some work into it! Remember, laziness is the enemy of interesting.
You already are interesting! Now go show it!
About Vanessa Van Edwards
Lead Investigator, Science of People
I’ve always wanted to know how people work, and that’s what Science of People is about. What drives our behavior? Why do people act the way they do? And most importantly, can you predict and change behavior to be more successful? I think the answer is yes. More about Vanessa.
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