You’ve backpacked through Europe, ran five marathons, and know Pi to the 100th digit. You are a one of a kind special snowflake and you’ve tried to share your unique experiences with others. The only problem? Nobody cares! Well Cameron does 😉 but that’s only because I’ve had the same experience as you.
I would tell people what I thought were EPIC stories. Sometimes people would politely laugh or compliment me on my stories, but more often I’d see their eyes wander in boredom, looking for something else to divert their attention to.
I knew that I didn’t suck at telling stories, however, because I could tell stories during speech classes and oral presentations and have my audience completely engaged. Try as I may, however, my conversations quickly died out whenever I’d talk to someone in an informal setting.
I never understood why until I had an epiphany last week while reading How To Win Friends & Influence People. I came across a chapter titled, “How To Interest People.” I didn’t think anything of it before reading the chapter, but after I finished I’d had an epiphany.
The reason I struggled to maintain conversations, and a problem you likely have as well is that you talk about yourself too much! The reason you’re not interesting to other people is that you’re robbing them the opportunity to talk about their favorite subject, themselves!
I shook my head when I realized there was such a simple solution. This past week I’ve made a consistent effort to allow others to talk about themselves. I’ve asked questions I thought they would like to answer and sure enough, people have been more interested in me than ever before!
An equally positive effect was that I’d become more interested in other people than ever before! When you’re working to better yourself and having all the crazy experiences that often accompany the journey of self-improvement it’s easy to think that other people are boring.
It’s easy to think that you need to anchor the conversation because you’re more, “Enlightened,” and have had a more diverse set of life experiences. However, the reality is that when you give other people the opportunity to share things about themselves they immediately become more interesting.
When you get others talking about what they’re passionate about that passion becomes infectious to both you and the conversation at large! You also open yourself up to the knowledge of the other person as well. Everyone is superior to you in some way, and everyone loves talking about the things they’re good at! If you’re willing to listen, the other person will almost always be happy to discuss with you that which they have experience in.
This eventually leads to an upward spiral as well. The more you learn, the more topics you’re able to intelligently converse with others in. The more knowledge you have about a diverse set of topics the deeper you can dive into conversations that others find interesting, and when you allow yourself to be interested by others, they almost always become interested in you.
Was this post a bit too much common sense? Sometimes I have to research things many of you guys just intuitively get. If that’s the case here I apologize. Hopefully this post helps someone though.
Also, I highly recommend you grab a copy of How To Win Friends & Influence People. It’s an awesome book, especially if you are less naturally adept in your interactions with others.
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