THE CARAVAN Volume 9, Issue 9, September 2010
BE LESS INTERESTING AND MORE INTERESTED
I attended a Leadership Conference in August and one of the speakers, Jim Collins said that we need to be "less interesting and more interested" and I thought that might make a great Caravan. So here is my interpretation and expansion about what Jim was referring to.
Whenever we are in a social setting many of us seem to think that we need to talk about and brag about who we are and what we have accomplished. We also do the "my scar is bigger than your scar" thing. You know, you ask someone how they are doing and they mention they have a cold; before they can finish you talk about how your cold is worse than theirs. Someone tells you they bought a new car and you begin to talk about your car or cars in general. Another person will tell you how they are repainting their house and you quickly talk about how you just redid your house. And so it begins, you are constantly talking about yourself but not listening to what the other person has to say.
Believe it or not, the more interested you are in what the other person has to say or who they are, the more interested they will be in talking to you. Have you ever gone away from a conversation thinking that the person was very interesting, and then realized that you knew nothing about them, because all they did was ask about you. What happened is they were so interested in you that you were able to talk about yourself (which we all love to do) but it was on the other person's terms, not yours and that's the key. Be so interested in them that they will in turn be interested in you. There are several techniques on how to be interested in others, but still have the opportunity to be interesting.
When you meet someone and the conversation begins, be the first to ask the questions. "Tell me how do you know the Smiths?" Then follow up with another question, then another and another. At one point they will ask you a question and then you will be able to talk about yourself, but, then once you have answered their question, ask them another question. The conversation will flow and you will both go away with more knowledge as well as a real sense that the other person is interesting.
If you meet someone and they begin to ask questions about you, it is OK to talk about yourself if they keep asking the questions, but at some point in the conversation, stop and turn the topic in their direction. Ask how their family is or how their job is going or ask about something they mentioned the last time you were together and get an update. It is your turn to ask the questions and go from being interesting to being interested. The key is to always come away from a conversation having learned something new about the other person.
Years ago when I took some sales training courses we were told that most sales people are able to sell someone something in about ten minutes and then they take the next twenty minutes to buy it back. That is because we don't know when to just simply shut up. The instructor used to tell us to picture the words "so what" on the prospects forehead and when we saw those words appear it is time to shut up. Outside of sales and in a social setting, I say when you see the words "shut up" on the forehead of the person you are talking to; it's time to ask them a question.
Stop bragging and yapping away in order to try to be more interesting, and begin to ask them questions to be more interested. But here is a caution; you have to be genuinely interested in them. Do not be phoney about it because it will come back to bite you.
Being interested trumps being interesting every time.
MOM’S TWO CENTS
By Jordin Williamson
OPEN YOUR EARS INSTEAD OF YOUR MOUTH
It is so easy to get caught up in our grown-up, busy lives that we often forget to check in with our children's lives. We know if they have homework or if they ate their vegetables or what time they have hockey practice but do we know how their lives are really going? They always know how our lives are going because we are always complaining about it. We make sure that everyone in the house knows how tired we are and how it was a rough day at work. We talk about our projects and our to-do-list. We talk and talk but rarely listen.
We yell when we are tired and order pizza when we are overwhelmed. And the family's life revolves around us, even though we tell ourselves and our friends that it is all about our kids. We choose the busy life we have. We choose the chaos and don't even realize it.
And in the middle of all of this sits the unheard child patiently waiting to tell you about their day. They're waiting to tell you that they scored a goal in gym class or that the teacher posted their art work on the class bulletin board or that their indoor shoes are getting too tight so they have a blister on the right foot. They try to tell you about the kid that keeps kicking them on the playground or the kid that told them they were fat today. But you didn't hear it because instead of opening your ears to the needs of your child you open your mouth for your needs.
Instead of asking how their day was and acknowledging that their life has importance to you, you asked for your needs to be filled. "I need you to stop chit chatting and go clean your room!" "I need you to set the table so we can all eat!" "I need you to go clean up the toys because I need to start dinner!" "Go start your homework!...Go take a bath!...Go do this, and go do that!"
How about, "Come here and sit with me and tell me about your day." Stop dealing with the chaos of your world and take some time to find out what is going on in their world. Ask questions, get answers, and be interested in what is important to them. Open your ears instead of your mouth. The family doesn't revolve around you it involves everyone. Each person has a place and a valuable role in keeping the family happy and healthy.
Quote of the Month
By Brodi Mouradian
"There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation."
- James Nathan Miller