Seven Tips on How To Be Interested

Be interested, not interesting. That, in a nutshell, is the key to establishing rapport when networking with others.

Being interested, though, is easier said than done. How does one demonstrate genuine interest? Here are some ideas I use:

  1. Approach the unknown with a sense of adventure. Step into conversations with an expectation of discovery. I anticipate that my questions will lead to hidden treasures.
  2. Cultivate your curiosity. The more I learn about someone or something, the more I realize how much I actually do not know. That awareness lays the foundation for an ongoing journey fueled by an insatiable curiosity.
  3. Ask good follow-up questions. It requires little creativity to ask good first questions. We can demonstrate our interest, however, when we follow up with questions that drill deeper. Ask the other person a series of questions beginning with “Why?” and then prompt the person with, “Tell me more.”
  4. Encourage someone to connect the dots. I invite the other person to help me align separate pieces of information. As we talk, we build upon what we’ve already discussed, connecting the dots through a game of “if/then.” (If _________, then how does that fit with _________?)
  5. Ask open-ended questions. In the early stages of a conversation, it’s helpful to warm things up by asking “yes or no” questions. We show interest, though, when we move to open-ended questions that require a more thoughtful answer. As we invite others to elaborate and share more, we show a deeper level of interest.
  6. Reciprocate sharing. Interest is also demonstrated through a volley of shared information. I try to make conversations interactive, sharing my own vulnerability as I invite others to do likewise. The best conversations are two way, relying upon the ebb and flow of interactive communications.
  7. Express gratitude. I’m always thankful for the newfound knowledge and understanding I gain from others. I always try to find creative ways to thank the other person for being open and transparent. In so doing, I imply my continued interest and I invite additional sharing.

We cannot fake being interested in others. We can, however, develop genuine interest by nurturing our innate curiosity. Being interested is a cultivated mindset, a way of life.

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