Everyone wants to be that charming, magnetic person at the party who everyone wants to talk to. Not everyone is naturally gifted with that kind of charisma. But according to a fascinating thread on question-and-answer site Quora, everyone has the potential to become interesting — or at least more interesting than they are now.
In response to the straightforward question, “How do I become an interesting person?,” CEOs, speakers and other professional (and amateur) charmers shared some of their tips and tricks that can transform anyone from dull to delightful.
1. Be curious.
The easiest way to be interesting, according to several respondents, is to be interested. “Curiosity leads to the accumulation of new experiences or viewpoints with which to view the world,” explains Moses Namkung, a quant analyst at Google. Which gives you plenty to talk about and ways to meaningfully connect with others.
Helpfully, “knowledge has never been as accessible as it is now,” insists CEO Evan Asano, who advises those looking to up their curiosity quotient to “read, listen to podcasts, find great websites. Learn from interesting people.”
2. Do new stuff regularly.
Being curious and consuming information is one great way to become more interesting, but so is doing new stuff. “You collect interesting tidbits by experiencing the world,” writes Shakespearean director and software engineer Marcus Geduld. The key “is doing stuff that changes you. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, and usually it won’t be. It could just be that you went to a new restaurant or learned a new fact... you have to make yourself interesting by doing interesting things,” he adds.
Asano calls this “seeking adventure,” though he doesn't necessarily mean big, scary adventures like trekking across the Sahara or jumping out of a plane. “Adventure doesn’t have to mean traveling to another another country or involving expensive gear," he notes. “Seeking adventure can be through travel, sports or the outdoors, but it definitely means getting out of your comfort zone.”
3. Have a passion.
You can acquire stuff to say by consuming information broadly ('be curious') or by seeking out fresh experiences ('do new stuff regularly') but you can also make yourself more interesting by delving more deeply into subjects you already know something about. “Interesting people have hobbies they pursue passionately,” writes Asano.
4. Kill the small talk.
Talking about the weather might be safe but it's also guaranteed to be boring. “Small talk is verbal static,” warns Jeff Kirkendoll-Chapman, a customer service rep (aka “professional talker,” according to Kirkendoll-Chapman). Still, he says there is some value in chatter about the weather, at least as a starting point. “In the static, people will drop keywords that matter to them. Your task is to identify those words and focus your responses to draw that person out.”
5. Actually care about people.
“Everyone’s favorite subject is themselves,” Kirkendoll-Chapman believes. Therefore, if you can't get interested in others, they're not going to find you a very congenial conversation partner. “When someone talks about their kids, or their lack of snow tires, or what happened on The Voice or Games of Thrones or whatever… You have to care. If you don’t genuinely care, then you need to do an Oscar-winning performance that you care,” he adds.
6. Hone your storytelling skills.
Having something to say is only half the battle, you also need to know how to say it. This is where storytelling skills come in very handy. “Storytelling is a deliberate act. You don’t just dump whatever is on your mind into the conversation; you purposefully shape it to make it interesting,” explains Geduld.
“You need to learn what’s too long and what’s too short, which depends on your audience and their moods (you need to learn how to read people); you need to learn to make your experiences visceral, which means describing the cheesecake you ate in a way that makes your listeners taste it; you need to learn how to to tease by withholding information until people are itching for a payoff; you need to learn about story structure: beginnings, middles, and ends,” he elaborates.
7 Be your (weird) self.
Your quirks are what make you interesting. Trying to fit in all the time is a sure fire way to sand off the rough edges that others will find fascinating. Founder Julian Reisinger urges readers to “be a true original.” He explains that “most people try to fit in in order to be liked. True originals don’t bend their behavior to match the expectations of others,” though he cautions that “staying true to yourself doesn’t mean pissing other people off intentionally. Knowing when to shut up is an art in itself.” Asano likewise recommends that if you want to be interesting, you should be bold enough to “be unconventional.”
What made the most fascinating people you've ever met so interesting?