Quit Trying to be Interesting and Get Interested

Dale Carnegie noticed six easy things any of us can do to get people to like us. Before we dive in, let me start by saying, it’s not so much about us getting others to like us as much as it’s about us coming to like them. For example, if I interact with you, I can do things to try to make you like me and you’ll probably see right through it. You’ll feel as though I’m using a cheesy sales technique. Or I can go into a situation with the mindset that I want to make friends and enjoy the people I interact with. Now I might do the very same things but people see the sincerity of someone who really wants to like them and that makes all the difference.

So the first thing we’ll look at is the advice to become genuinely interested in other people. In other words, quit trying to be interesting and get interested.

A few weeks ago I mentioned everyone’s favorite radio station WIIFM, call letters for “What’s In It For Me.” This is the preoccupation of most people’s thoughts. Reality check – people are more concerned about themselves than they are about you. If you want to come to know them, like them and perhaps have them like you then don’t fight it. Carnegie said we could make more friends in two months than we could in two years by becoming interested in others rather than trying to be interesting.

Sounds easy enough but what’s that look like, being interested in others? First thing I’d say would be give them your full attention. If you’re meeting with them in person that means maintaining eye contact and displaying body language that indicates you’re open to them and what they’re sharing. Don’t sit back, arms folded, legs crossed with a blank expression. All it takes is a smile, head nod to indicate agreement and perhaps a slight lean forward. I bet you can do each of those things.

If you happen to be on the phone stop everything you’re doing…including looking at your computer. Ask yourself, “If the person was sitting in front of me would I be doing what I’m doing right now?” If the answer is no then stop whatever you’re doing so you can pay full attention. Take notes if for no other reason than to focus on the other person and what they’re saying.

How about this; don’t listen to respond, instead, listen to understand. That means you’re not jumping in each time they take a breath so you can share your thoughts
or your stories. The more natural thing would be to ask questions to learn more about them or what they happen to be talking about.

Here’s an idea — you can take the initiative and talk about something you know is important to the other person. Perhaps you’ve heard they are into gardening. If you’re like me that may be something you have no interest in but you can still ask them about it because it’s important to them. How do people feel when they talk about something or someone they love? How do they feel when they talk about causes they’re passionate about? What about fond memories? You’re probably thinking, “Of course they feel good when they recall such things and talk about them.” Bingo!

When people talk about what they love or what they’re passionate about they feel energized and good. Eventually they come to associate those positive feelings with you. Think back to a time when someone said or did something that hurt you. If they did it repeatedly you probably tried to avoid that person. On the flip side, when you had good, positive interactions with people you began to associate good feelings with them and wanted to be around them. It’s the same deal here, only this time you’re making a more strategic decision to engage the other person on their terms in hopes of engaging the liking principle.

This strategic decision is an important one. When I interview people I typically ask for a strength of theirs and most often I hear something like, “I have great relationships with my agents and CSRs.” So people are aware relationships are important but they usually fall flat when I follow up with this question, “Suppose you get this job and you’re going to visit your assigned agents for the first time. What will you do to connect with them as quickly as possible so you can build a strong working relationship quickly?” This is where people stutter and hesitate. It’s easy for them to sense when someone likes them but they’re not always sure why that’s occurred.

Understanding a simple concept like becoming genuinely interested in others and making it a focus of your interaction will help you become a more likable person. Never underestimate the power of liking. Jeffrey Gitomer put it best when he said, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things not being so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.” Being a good friend will get you the benefit of the doubt every time, whether professionally or personally.

If you’ve had success making friends with a strategy like this, or some other way, leave a comment below to let me know about it.

Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”

2 replies
  1. Paul Colaianni - Consulting Hypnotist
    Paul Colaianni - Consulting Hypnotist says:

    NOW I know why people tend to respond favorably to me! When they talk about something, I am usually genuinely interested in the topic and continue probing them for more information. It not only validates the person, it shows that I care about what they care about, creating a strong connection.

    Good write-up. Thanks!

  2. Brian
    Brian says:

    Thanks for commenting. I'm glad you found the article valuable. I'm a firm believer that once you know why something works, you can be even more effective in the future because you might pick up on opportunities in the moment that might have slipped by in the past.


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