Many people believe the route to success is to be interesting—to show off or act like someone else. For example, many teenagers can’t understand why they are unpopular. They learned as children that to get attention they should act up a little; to be as interesting as possible. Yet acting interesting does not make a teenager popular. To handle their unpopularity, they might decide to despise people or become loners. Or they try harmful acts to gain respect: smoking, drinking, graffiti, shoplifting, drugs, sex, guns and so on.
Acting interesting can ruin your adult life as well. Show-off employees, self-centered managers and pompous business owners rarely do well for long.
The secret to popularity is not to be interesting, but to be interested.
“When a person becomes terribly interesting he has lots of problems, believe me. That is the chasm which is crossed by all of your celebrities, anybody who is foolish enough to become famous. He crosses over from being interested in life to being interesting. And people who are interesting are really no longer interested in life. It’s very baffling to some young fellow why he can’t make some beautiful girl interested in him. Well, she is not interested, she is interesting.” — L. Ron Hubbard
If you are an actor on stage, you are interesting while acting. Seminar speakers are interesting. Comedians, models and magicians are interesting.
Yet in real life, on a one-on-one basis, interesting people are irritating. They only do things to get your attention and admiration. They believe they are on stage acting for an audience of one.
If you want people to cooperate with you, to like you or to open up to you, you must be interested.
Instead of focusing on yourself, you start to focus on others. You notice what makes them happy or unhappy. Your attention comes off of you and onto others.
When your thoughts are more on others than on yourself, you feel little stress. You act and respond with more intelligence. Your production level increases and you have more fun.
When you are interested, people love your interest in them. They want to be around you. You are popular.
Five Ways to Be More Interested
1. Strive to shift your attention from yourself onto other people or objects. This is a great stress reliever.
2. Find things about people that interest you. Force yourself to look for interesting things. Soon you will automatically take interest in people without thinking about it.
3. If you catch yourself acting like someone else, you are being interesting. Simply get interested in the person in front of you and you’ll feel more natural. You are most effective when you are simply being yourself.
4. When someone makes you nervous or shy, get interested in them. Take your attention off of yourself and on to others. With practice, you will be calm, even bold.
5. Focus on how you can help others. Let your interest in helping people replace your tendency to act interesting. Your effectiveness and popularity will soar.