Thoughts On How To Be More Interesting

Many people want to become more interesting in their conversations. They may worry they're naturally boring and want to change that. Here are some of my thoughts. I'll focus on being interesting in terms of the kinds of things you're sharing, and won't cover that listening-focused angle of "To seem interesting, be interested in others".

Being interesting is obviously a strength, but you don't need to be captivating 24/7

Some people are really insecure about seeming dull, and think they need to turn themselves into someone who's an endless fountain of scintillating facts and anecdotes. It's great to be around someone who's being interesting, but realize people also appreciate other types of interaction. Sometimes they want to catch up with their friends and talk about ho-hum topics, or mindlessly joke around, or have some silent company while watching TV, or have a supportive ear as they work through a problem. By all means, try to be more interesting, but don't beat yourself up if you can't be that way all the time.

Being interesting is about introducing people to intriguing new things

If I had to come up with a personal definition of what makes someone interesting, it's that they have knowledge or information that other people would enjoy knowing. It doesn't have to be straight-up facts or trivia either. It could take the form of ideas, life experiences, tastes, philosophies, perspectives, or world views. You can probably think of a time where you met someone who had a unique job or lifestyle and you were eager to pick their brain and take in all their stories and anecdotes. Or maybe you know someone who looks at things just a little differently, and you love hearing their opinions about the world. Or you could know someone with unique style and tastes. Just watching how they dress or what they enjoy indirectly introduces you to new things, and you're drawn toward them.

There's a theory that one way we find things interesting is when they subvert our existing beliefs, but not to an uncomfortable degree. So we may find it mildly interesting if we assumed a celebrity was macho, but it turns out they foster orphaned kittens. Many people would just find it threatening and upsetting if they learned about a study that cast doubt on one of their deeply-held political views. When you're consciously trying to expose people to new things, aim to show them stuff that makes them think, "Oh neat! I never thought of it that way." You're not looking to attack the foundation their life is built on.

You can't be interesting if you can't or don't share things about yourself

Your head could be full of interesting stuff, but if you're too shy or self-censoring to bring any of it up, no one's going to know. What good is a compelling thought on a topic, or a story about a trip you took last weekend, if you shut it down with, "That's too dorky. No one wants to hear about that"?

It may not even be insecurities that keep you from sharing. It just may not have occurred to you that you could bring up a subject. Maybe it never naturally came up in conversation, so you didn't consider that you could mention it anyway. You probably have a few interesting topics that are gathering dust for no particular reason.

If you truly want to be more interesting be the real deal and live a full life

You could technically be a bit more interesting by taking half an hour to cram some Fun Facts into your head every time you're about to meet some friends. That's hardly the ideal though. What's better and more organic is to live a varied life and actually become the kind of person who has new things they can introduce to everyone. It's not always the case, but some socially inexperienced people have lived fairly one-dimensional lives, especially if they're on the younger side. Maybe they could be interesting to someone who wants to hear about their handful of hobbies, but that's about it.

So try to fill your brain up with a lot of knowledge and experience. It's okay if you have a couple of main interests, like most people, but make an effort to add some new things around the edges. Expose yourself to fresh ideas. Go to random events and festivals in your area. Listen to new music. Watch new movies. Go to a quirky tourist spot a few towns away. Dabble in new hobbies. Try new recipes. Talk to people from different walks of life. There's dozens of examples I could give, but you get the idea.

Don't pressure yourself to do or learn about everything on the planet. That's not possible for anyone. But make a point of mixing up your routine. Do that enough over time and you really will be a more interesting person. At this point all you have to do is open your mouth and count on that what you have to say will be worth hearing.

Your views and experiences don't have to be extreme to be interesting

The caricature of an interesting person is someone who BASE jumps off volcanoes, or who writes magazine articles about rock bands they're touring with. I'm sure those are amazing things to hear about, but people can be interesting about more day-to-day things too. If their perspective and stories are fresh and thought-provoking, someone could be interesting by talking about their job as a veterinarian or legal secretary, or by giving an recap of a movie they just watched. Lots of interesting people have ordinary lives on paper.

Learn to present what you have to say in an engaging manner

I realize this is a broad point, and can't go into every detail about how to be a polished speaker. Being interesting is as much about how you say something as what you're saying. Two people could share the same fact or anecdote, but one might drone on and include lots of pointless details, while the second delivers a snappy routine. An interesting person can sometimes take a mundane topic, like what happened at work that day, and find an engaging angle. An uninteresting person can speak about something fascinating and suck the life out of it.

Generally, if you have to speak about something, try your best to steer clear of the dull bits and find a hook. Try to inject your worldview and humor into it. Be reasonably lively, rather than dry and monotone. Look for moments to create a back-and-forth exchange rather than giving a big monologue or lecture. You can get better at all this with practice. Keep at it, and don't put unreasonable expectations on yourself to turn everything into a performance for the ages.

You could take some time to polish up your oft-repeated material. Everyone has certain things about them that tend to come up or be asked about over and over. Like they have a rare job or college major, or they lived overseas for a few years. Whatever they are for you, it helps to have some neat facts or quick anecdotes ready to go.

Develop your instinct for the things particular people want to hear about

This is connected to the points above. There's no point in saying something if the other person doesn't care about it. You've got to know your audience to a degree and tailor your conversation to them. Say various people ask about how university is going for you. What's interesting to your grandpa may be what subjects you're taking. Your parents may really want to hear about your new friends and how you're settling into life in a different city. Your hometown buddies may want the partying stories.

Also do your best to gauge how much information someone wants. If you've read a new book, one friend may only want a quick overview, while another would like to hear your thoughts on every plot development. If you have a story, one co-worker may just want a thirty second summary. Another may want to hear every amusing tangent.

Being interesting is about fostering your uniqueness

You can hardly be interesting if you have the same things to say as everyone else. Your interesting side comes from adding that unique perspective that only you can offer. Your opinion about a political issue may be flavored by a handful of obscure history books you read. Another person's view may be affected by a certain job they had. Maybe another person has some firsthand insider knowledge about the issue. They're all bringing something to the discussion that only they can, and that the other participants hopefully want to be filled in on.

If you and your friends are sitting around and chatting, there are lots of things that only you can contribute to the conversation. You can add those points because you've spent some time doing your own thing and delving into areas that caught your attention.

Don't underestimate how interesting certain quirky or intellectual aspects of yourself can be either. On occasion you can impress people with your knowledge of some pretty esoteric topics. You never know, the person you're talking to may be a closet science buff and want nothing more than to hear about what you did your Biology thesis on. It never hurts to bring these things up. At worst you won't capture their attention and can change the subject.

Don't feel you're entitled to be seen as interesting just because you have certain knowledge or experiences

I've met people who were really well-informed about things like politics, philosophy, and international issues, or they'd traveled widely. They came off as a somewhat bitter because they thought they had this interesting knowledge base, but the people in their lives didn't always care. They'd get annoyed when they tried to bring up a story about their time in Guatemala, and their co-workers would shrug. Even if you have the "right" things to talk about, you won't always be seen as interesting. Like I said, it's about what's a fit for your audience. Be able to shift gears if your usual interesting subjects don't land.