“Become genuinely interested in other people”
It’s been repeated to the point of being cliché. In fact, this was in Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People as one of his “Six Ways to Make People Like You”. While this is pretty solid advice, and one of the best ways to build rapport, it’s missing a crucial element. They don’t tell you HOW to build that genuine interest or how to maintain it.
But What if I’m Not Interested in Them?
This is something that I used to struggle with constantly. We started this project with approaching one hundred random strangers. At first, the prospect of building my social skills was what motivated me to push past my fears and talk to people. However, after talking to hundreds of people, I had run into another barrier. There were many times where I was about to approach somebody but then found myself asking the same question, “What’s the point? Why am I doing this?”. I used to approach everyone that I was curious about, but after so many people it was hard to stay curious.
I went through several books and other resources to try and find an answer, but nobody talked about it. Surely I couldn’t be the only one who’s experienced this? So I spent a week talking to at least 12 people a day (a little over 60 people over the course of 5 days) just to try and figure out how to get past this; and I’ve finally found a solution. To be genuinely interested in the person you’re talking to, you need to know what kind of relationship you want with that person in the first place.
Why It’s So Imporant
Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says, “Begin with the end in mind”; and I couldn’t agree more. Anytime you’re trying to build a connection with someone, you are both trying to ultimately grow from that experience; no matter how long or how short of a time that may be. That is the definition of a relationship, that is your purpose. It’s very important to know this because when you go in blind (in other words you don’t know why you’re talking to this person), you may or may not be interested in who they are or what they have to say. People can very easily pickup on this subconsciously. On the other hand, knowing your purpose for, and the, relationship you want to have with that other person will actively make you more patient during the slower parts of conversations so that you can have and maintain a genuine interest in that other person.
Try it out! The next time you go out, decide on and try to build a connection with someone. Figure out what relationship you want to have with them, no matter how fleeting, before you approach. See if that doesn’t make things easier for you.