How To Be Interesting

Russell Davies, three years ago, posted worthwhile tips for how to become a more interesting person. His advice is premised on two assumptions:

The way to be interesting is to be interested. You’ve got to find what’s interesting in everything, you’ve got to be good at noticing things, you’ve got to be good at listening. If you find people (and things) interesting, they’ll find you interesting.

Interesting people are good at sharing. You can’t be interested in someone who won’t tell you anything. Being good at sharing is not the same as talking and talking and talking. It means you share your ideas, you let people play with them and you’re good at talking about them without having to talk about yourself.

Here's his top 10 list. See the post for details under each header:

1. Take at least one picture everyday. Post it to flickr.

2. Start a blog. Write at least one sentence every week.

3. Keep a scrapbook

4. Every week, read a magazine you’ve never read before

5. Once a month interview someone for 20 minutes, work out how to make them interesting. Podcast it.

6. Collect something

7. Once a week sit in a coffee-shop or cafe for an hour and listen to other people’s conversations. Take notes. Blog about it. (Carefully)

8. Every month write 50 words about one piece of visual art, one piece of writing, one piece of music and one piece of film or TV. Do other art forms if you can. Blog about it

9. Make something

10. Read

If you had to take away just one thing from his post, I think it should be assumption #1: the way to be interesting is to be interested.

6 Responses to How To Be Interesting

  1. Ben: I agree completely with your conclusion. Fact of that matter, there is nearly 50 years of research surrounding your notion of being “interested.” I summarize the latest research findings on “nice-guyness,” otherwise operationalized as “warmth” and “competency,” the nub of the matter, here: link to tinyurl.com.

  2. Ben: Tinyuri didn’t work. The post is here: link to danerwin.typepad.com

  3. DaveJ says:

    I agree with your first and final point, but there is an emphasis here on “broad and shallow” rather than “deep.” The former is useful at cocktail parties or networking events, but what about a six-hour car ride? Someone who is purely a dilettante gets dull after a bit when you realize that they’ve only skimmed the surface of everything.

    And Davies’ items #1 – #8 seem to suggest that his definition of “interesting” is “journalist,” which amounts to the same issue regarding depth.

    How about these traits?

    – Witty / sense of humor
    – Asks good questions (defined as getting at the heart of the matter)
    – Knows one or more topics well
    – Can actually explain some of the interesting subtleties of an area

  4. Ben Casnocha says:

    Agreed, though I do think someone who’s skimmed the surface of EVERYTHING
    will still be an interesting companion during the six hour car ride. :)

    In general the person should be able to talk about at least ONE thing
    in-depth — even if it’s a personal experience, he should have some deep and
    subtle things to say about it.

  5. The reality is not everyone will find you interesting. Rather than trying to appear interesting to other people, why not just be yourself?

    I think the tips in this post are some good ways to explore the different facets of oneself, but they are of course many other ways to discover yourself.

    Listen to your inner voice, know what it is saying and learn to express yourself fully and creatively. That will make you really interesting, perhaps not to others, but definitely to yourself.

  6. Mariam says:

    hmmm…I took this blog entry as talking about being an intersting blogger….not necessarily an interesting conversationalist. For that, it’s amazing advice. Now, where’s my camera? :D

    PS: Hey Ben! What’s up? I haven’t been to your blog in a while. I used to be at link to drivenentrepreneur.blogspot.com

    Now I’m at: link to perfecshunist.livejournal.com

    Anyway, just wanted to say “Hi.” thanks for the great advice!

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