Have you ever started a new job and wondered how to talk to your new co-workers? Have you ever been on a date and you weren’t sure what to say? You want to be interesting, memorable, and respected. But when people ask you about yourself, you verbally roll up like a rollie-pollie. You spent Saturday afternoon playing League of Legends, not parasailing in Brazil or volunteering at a homeless shelter. It was fun, but it’s not something you can brag about. And even if you tried, normies just wouldn’t understand.
Some people make friends wherever they go. They have the ability to make people like them and trust them, like a sorceress who naturally waves her hand and casts a magic spell. They were born with a natural +5 to their charisma rolls, and you weren’t.
However, being an interesting person is not a feat you’re born with. Anyone can learn how to be interesting. You don’t need to be an adrenaline junkie or as charismatic as a movie star. The secret is actually very simple. It’s something you can do today.
The secret is to be interested in other people.
The most annoying people are like an opera singer warming up–all they talk about is mimimimimimi! In contrast, the most engaging people are the ones who involve other people in their conversations.
How to Ask Good Questions
Almost everyone can talk endlessly about themselves, their adventures, and their opinions. All you have to do is ask them a few good questions and listen closely. When you’re meeting someone for the first time, a few good jumping off points are their family, their job, recreation (what they do for fun), and their dreams (their future).
You can remember this with the acronym FORD:
Most people would be happy to talk about one of these things. Of course, you might focus on one or the other based on the context. At work, you wouldn’t pry into someone’s family life immediately, but maybe an acquaintance would be happy to share a great story about how he met his wife at an airport while waiting for a delayed flight.
Now you have a couple ideas to spark a conversation or to feed the flame of a dying fire. What you do next will influence how the other person feels. You want to show interest in others.
What you don’t want to do is ask a bunch of factual questions.
You: Where did you grow up? Them: Nashville You: How long did you live there? Them: 20 years You: How many people live there? Them: I don’t know… half a million?
Boring! If something can be answered with a definite, factual answer, it probably won’t be interesting.
Instead, ask open-ended questions. You want to hear about their unique perspective. You want to be an explorer. People, including recruiters, get asked the same set of questions over and over. If you can think of something new to talk about, that’s more fun for everyone involved.
Compare these questions. Which do you think will be more fun for your conversation partner to talk about?
- How long have you lived here? vs How do you think this town has changed since you first moved here?
- What’s your favorite movie? vs If you were the producer of the Avengers, what would you change?
- Where do you swim? vs What does it take to be a really good swimmer?
Ask questions that give people opportunities to tell stories and show their personality. Be specific in your questions. Let them talk. Don’t worry about preparing a response when they’re talking. Just listen.
When they do pause, you can add something about your own life. Maybe you can hook into an interesting story of your own. Then ask them more about themselves. Drill down with questions like:
- What’s the most unusual/funnest thing you’ve done in this town?
- Why do you think Thanos is such a unique villain? Like, what’s so special about him?
- Do you remember the first time you went swimming? How did you feel when you were just starting out?
If you find yourself struggling to add something interesting because you don’t have an exciting life, I’ve got some ideas that you can do to fix that.
In the meantime, be interested in other people. Show your interest by asking open-ended questions. Talkative people will like talking to you. Quiet people will think you’re unique for letting them speak for a change. Most people probably won’t even remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.
And soon, you’ll make friends wherever you go.
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