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Monday, January 12, 2015

How to Be Interesting

I've often been accused of leading an interesting life because I follow the road less traveled. I don't do it for the novelty or even for the honor of eccentricity. It's just me, odd since birth.

There are other ways to be interesting. People who read widely are interesting. People who write are notoriously fascinating though often inherently reclusive.

Those with special talents, or those who travel are interesting. I can listen to them for hours.

But the real secret to being interesting is far simpler. Dale Carnegie said it best with: “To be interesting, be interested.” 

We, as a society are smitten with ourselves. We're everywhere with selfies, emailing photos of our 'junk', and sharing things on Facebook that I wouldn't tell a priest.

It's too much, especially for (very) public consumption. I think this is why so many people come across as monotonous, or at least boorish. 

It's even worse for people in business. Social media feeds us a daily diet of self-absorbed crapola and calls it networking. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Networking in its purest form is about what you can offer, not take. It's an organic form of communication with no obligation to trade tit for tat. 

In a recent post, Barbara Wright asked in a comment: How do you tell a guest they must be interesting?

You can't go wrong with Dale Carnegie's advice above. 

My tips:

• Ask for a proposal and then approve (or decline) the post idea. It's your blog. You call the shots. If the post turns out boring, you become the cheese for allowing it to appear. If it's awesome, you shine for having such good taste in guests.

• Offer your guest blogger a specific topic if they can't come up with a good one on their own. Who knows your readers better than you?

• Never, ever allow them to monopolize your blog with an advertisement. Hand-waving used to be the norm, but it's fallen out of favor. You can talk about a book without resorting to cheer leading...unless of course your book is about cheer leading.

My number one rule is is to always put my readers' interests first. They're the reason this blog exists.


Who's the most interesting person you've known? What made them interesting?


Angela Brown said...

The writing community is filled with so many interesting peeps. You intrigue me with your homesteading. Evelyn Palfray, author of "marvelously mature" novels keeps me on my toes with her wit. Julia Sykes is a young emerging author who's life leaves me breathless. And the list goes on and on.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I so get exactly what you're saying. My blog is about writing so I always ask my guests to talk about a specific topic that might interest writers and to keep it short.
I'm not sure who the most interesting person is I know. That question is going to bug me the rest of the day.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Writers are always interesting by virtue of their imagination, voice, or background.

The most exciting writers I know impress me more with their knowledge of the world at large than anything else.

I guess I'm saying I like their brains. LOL!

Maria Zannini said...

Re: interesting person
There can't be just one. Sometimes I wonder who I'd invite to a fantasy dinner party if time and distance were not a problem. Think how lively the conversation would be.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Gack. I'd have to be interesting? No way could I visit (and be welcome, then).

Maria Zannini said...

Mac: Ha! Authors are their own worst enemies.

Besides, you have dogs. That makes you automatically interesting. :)

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I guess the most interesting people I've known always stopped to make sure their audience was engaged. Otherwise, they were just filling a room with talk.

Maria Zannini said...

Barbara: Some people are naturals when it comes to engagement. It's more than an art. It's magic to watch them work a room.

Sandra Almazan said...

The most interesting people I've known were well read and could tell a story well.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

By the way people respond to me I think I'm more interesting online than in person. I have a very flat voice and a crabby "resting face." These are things that don't come across online so this is where I'm most comfortable. I feel I'm understood more on social media than I am in person.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I guess my daughter is the most interesting person I know. I remember when we first moved to Ohio and didn't really know ANYONE, my daughter managed to run into someone she knew EVERYWHERE. Heck, we'll go to Dragon*Con where there are 40K+ people and run into someone she knows. And that's because she knows how to get to know people (and they remember her!). I wish I had that ability. She sure didn't get it from me! :)

Diane Carlisle said...

The most interesting person to me was my Elementary Logic instructor in college. He was a drunk, but always seemed to garner the respect of his top students. How did he manage this? By making intellectuals compete for his attention.

Disgusting, but true. I hated him, yet I admired him. I don't know how else to explain it.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Great topic -- and insight.

Storytelling, the advertising gurus' new word.

I'd say that as consumers, we now want the stories to be about us, and that involves the storyteller listening.

It's like in the old face-to-face storytelling. Details would be refined on the spot as the storyteller assessed their audience's reaction. You gotta listen.

You're right, as always, Maria :)

Tammy Theriault said...

yes! love the ideas. and especially the phrase to be interested. so important!

Maria Zannini said...

Sandra: A well-read person is someone who's expanded his horizons, much like a world traveler.

The only thing that defeats that is when he's unable to articulate his experiences.

Maria Zannini said...

Karen: People always think I look confused. Maybe that's not too far from the truth. LOL.

I'm quiet in real life. I prefer to listen rather than talk, so people "think" I'm interesting because I listen to them. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: People like your daughter are rare. I've known a few people like that. Like you, I've never been able to figure out the secret on what makes them so magnetic.

Maria Zannini said...

Diane: I had a professor like that--but she got drunk on young college studs. :)

The only way I could reach the revered spot on her pedestal was to be twice as smart as the favored boys.

I wasn't in competition with her so she didn't begrudge my presence.

Maria Zannini said...

Re: It's like in the old face-to-face storytelling. Details would be refined on the spot as the storyteller assessed their audience's reaction. You gotta listen.

This is so true. Every great comedian and preacher knows this too. You gotta pay attention to your audience.

Maria Zannini said...

Tammy: Welcome, Tammy. Glad you could pop in!

Mike Keyton said...

I've met so many interesting people. One of the very best things of life. Off the top of my head, one of the most interesting was Doctor Sidney Anglo, a great Renaissance scholar and expert on Machiavelli. Ove his desk he had a tattered photocopy of Shakespeare's profile and he sat underneath so their two profiles matched. He liked to think he was a reincarnation. On another occasion he gave a guest lecture to fellow academics on Renaissance magic, and preceded his entrance to the hall by a group of cowled and chanting monks holding candles. I never matched that in my teaching. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: He sounds amazing! I would've loved to have met him.