Words, Ideas, Stuff
Some ideas and thoughts, captured with the view to help you.
I was recently listening to an audio book by millenial Ayurvedic writer Sahara Rose, called “Discover Your Dharma”. She’s a super clever lady with a lot of weight in her book around how you can find your purpose and a cool story about she crossed paths with her inspiration, Deepak Chopra, and there he is on her site with an endorsement, stating she’s:
“A leading voice in the millennial generation into the new paradigm shift.” - Deepak Chopra
I was walking in the Port Hills early one sunny Sunday morning (walking, more like trudging up hill struggling for breath on one of those super hot 28 degree nor’west days) with her in my ears and had to stop, gratefully stopped, to note down a few gems that she said. They were sayings that provided food for thought, prompted deeper consideration or a curiosity.
One of which was that “the interested are the most interesting”.
I’ve taken this in the context of a reminder that we all can sharpen up our soft skills, deepen connections, be a better friend/colleague/partner/daughter/sister/gym buddy and the way to do that is to be interested. Focus less on being interesting, on being the one with the yarns, the facts, the laugh-generating tales, and more on being the one with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to be present and really listen.
What’s also a little surprising is what comes up if you Google this topic generally. It’s all about how to show someone you’re romantically interested in that you’re interested in them. Interesting right? Intentional overuse of the word interesting here as it’s not interesting – that’s just shallow and a little manipulative. It’s never a bad idea to be straight up and let someone know where you’re at and what you’re looking for, and how you feel, rocket science? Nah. Easy to do? Also nah.
The key point here though is it’s not about only showing interest in those you’ve a romantic agenda with, it’s about being present, attentive and a general good bugger, and showing an interest with everyone you connect with. The time investment will change, as will the breadth and depth of conversation, depending on the context.
Ultimately though the approach is the same. Be genuinely interested in what the other person has to say. Whether that’s a simple transactional chat with the barista over your necessary morning caffeine fix, or with Julie who you’re sat next to at friend’s birthday lunch and who happens to be a PhD Robotics Engineer, or your meditation class instructor as you chat at the end of class – regardless of the context, you can be interested.
So how do you be interested?
It seems obvious but those visual clues are the biggest giveaways – body language and eye contact. Be present. Phone down, focused on listening and understanding what the other person is saying.
Then, against the advice of the few articles I did find on non-romance related interest, be genuine. If you’re not interested in the topic, do be polite and try and engage in the parts of what they’re saying that do connect with you, or let your area of expertise come through too and ask great questions. Ask broader, bigger ones if the topic isn’t one you’re into.
An example of this is if someone is talking animatedly about their love of food and you’re just not a foodie, but realise that getting your five plus a day is hard as you’re training, studying and working two jobs, ask them questions and engage their help on that. Share a little about you and ask their insight on how to solve a challenge that’s connected.
If you’ve exhausted your level of genuine interest it might be time to steer it away from that to something you may both connect on so don’t be afraid to thank them for their insights and ask their views on topic x or y. Asking great questions with a view to genuinely understanding someone else world view is super engaging and an amazing way to learn and grow, especially if their view or experiences are different from yours.
Before jumping in with a counter or additive view, do take the time to reflect back what they’ve said. That does two things – cements what they’ve said in your mind, and hearing back what they’ve articulated makes them feel heard. If it floats your boat, go deeper! Ask why they think that, how they came to think that, what counter views they struggle with etc – those open questions of who, what, when, how, why can unleash some powerful ideas!
Think of a situation when you’re chatting away and it seems really obvious that the person you’re talking with isn’t engaged at all, they’re just not interested. It’s like a big billboard screaming “I don’t care”. They may have many a reason for checking-out but the point is, when someone’s not interested, we can tell, we can sense it, we can usually see it. It leaves us feeling pretty small, so let’s be the ones that show up and be present for each other.
Taking in perspective from someone else can open our minds, hearts, and change our world views. Being interested in someone is such a gift! In a busy, wired, ‘on’ world, we really notice when we’re listened to and more so when we’re understood. Let’s strive to spread this kind of attention wherever we go.
Maintaining presence and focus, engaging body language, asking great questions, reflecting back and sharing your own ideas is the way to show you’re interested. It’s a great skill set to practise, one that we all benefit from working on and refining, especially as how we engage and how we work changes in 2021. Who knows what the next chapter of this crazy ol’ decade will bring, but the only thing we can be certain about is that we’ll need each other to survive it!