'Adulting 101' series

Be interested, not just interesting

Boris Joaquin

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Be interested, not just interesting
While receiving attention feels great, what do you think would happen if we started giving more attention instead?

We’re all trying to find our place in this world. But in a world full of 7 billion people, it’s hard to stand out. Many of us strive to gain others’ attention, whether in small or large circles; technology is an excellent tool for all of this. 

As a disseminator of information, we can market ourselves to whoever we want all over the world. Sometimes the attention given to us lasts years depending on what we do and who we are. For others, it could last just a day.

While receiving attention feels great, what do you think would happen if we started giving more attention instead? 

Listen more, talk less

In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie talked about the value of being interested. “If you want to be interesting,” he suggests, “be interested.” This seems paradoxical, but it holds a lot of truth.

Carnegie’s definition of being “interested” means to be an attentive and generous listener and a person willing to serve others – rather than just himself. Listen more, talk less.

In conversations, talking about ourselves comes naturally to us. When the person we’re conversing with talks about himself, we might find ourselves diverting the conversation back to ourselves.

That’s alright when our objective is to empathize with the other person: we search within ourselves to see if we have a similar experience that conjures feelings that allows us to identify with the other person. But sometimes our unconscious motives are less than ideal, and the conversation becomes all about ourselves.

It is natural to talk about ourselves; it is human, after all, to want to be seen, heard, and known. But staying in that bubble in a conversation can betray self-absorption and a lack of empathy and concern for others. 

On the other hand, being genuinely interested in the person you are conversing with, and their ideas, feelings, and situations make you a better human being! It reveals humility, respect, concern, and empathy – an altogether good heart. 

When you are concerned about others, you are freed from the need to make yourself memorable. Isn’t it fascinating that what makes a person more interesting is that he is interested in others?

A mindset to life

On another level, being interested can be an attitude towards life that enables you to graduate from the preoccupation to make yourself interesting. Being interested is about approaching life with wonder and this world with compassion. 

Personally, I think it also means we should “be interested” in general: interested in living a good life, in continual learning and development, in books, art, science, travel, new experiences, in what’s going on in the world, in different points of view, and so on.  

After all, when we’re interested in many things, there’s a better chance we will be more equipped to take an interest in what others have to say. And, in turn, we’ll also have something interesting to add to the conversation to keep it going, expanding, and deepening.  

Our lives are limited, and our worlds are small. To expand it, you must go beyond yourself. This means paying more attention to other people, entering their worlds, and really getting invested in them. It also means involving yourself in ideas greater than yourself – from the arts to sciences to even philosophy. There’s more benefit to paying attention.

All these must start from a heart that genuinely wants to invest. It may be difficult at first, especially if you are the kind of person who tends to focus on yourself, but it is not impossible. 

Seeking attention is self-serving and never satisfies. When you learn to live outside of your own little world, you will feel more energized. When you take an interest in others and in the bigger world outside yourself, you will get to see the world in a whole new different lens. – Rappler.com

Boris is the president and CEO of Breakthrough Leadership Management Consultancy, Inc., founder of the Project Purpose Team, Inc., a corporate educator under the Duke CE Global Educators Network (UK) and a registered Investors in People (UK) specialist. 

A management and marketing professional, Boris was involved in various industries both local and international for more than two decades. He is presently the national director for Lead Like Jesus Philippines. Boris is married to Michelle Joaquin and has two daughters, Ysobel and Julia.

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