Emotional intelligence (EQ) is important in business. Whether it’s in the ability of a Brand Manager to shape an emotionally relevant promise for an audience. In the skill of a Financial Manager in developing coaching relationships with colleagues. Or in the traits of a successful CEO, who uses her humanity to gather support from employees. For more on EQ, try Dr. Travis Bradberry’s bestselling book ‘Emotional Intelligence 2.0’.
We follow people who attract our interest on many levels. They tell exciting stories and they seem to lead unusual lives. But what exactly makes them so captivating?
It’s probably curiosity more than anything else. An interesting person is always excited about exploring the world, and this energy seems to radiate outwards. On a simple level, I taught my children a technique that works whether you are sitting with a man with a PhD in Accountancy or a grandmother who has lived through a century of history. Ask questions. That will demonstrate interest, kick-start empathy and you might just learn something.
Some people are naturally interesting, but my psychologist friends tell me there are ways you can practice to be more engaging. Here are a few to try:
Try new things. Interesting people do what interests them. The very act of seeking new experiences also happens to be great for your mood, and people who are happy are far more interesting to be around than gloomy ones.
Learn and share. Albert Einstein kept a sense of wonder throughout his life that made him continue to ask questions about the world. He was also really good at sharing. Interesting people feel out their conversational partners to see what sparks their interest. Einstein didn’t try to share everything he had done with everyone he met.
Have passion. Dr. Jane Goodall left her home in England and moved to Tanzania at age 26 to study chimpanzees. It became her life’s work, and Goodall has devoted herself fully to her cause while inspiring many others to do the same. Interesting people don’t just have interests; they have passions, and they devote themselves completely.
Dial down your ego. An egomaniac is always posturing, never interesting. Always worrying about how they’ll come across. Oprah Winfrey says, “Learn to leave your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead. Every right decision I’ve made has come from my gut. And every wrong decision I’ve ever made was a result of me not listening to the greater voice within myself.”
Maintain your difference. Interesting people often have preferences that don’t fit the norm. Billionaire Warren Buffett still lives in the modest house he bought in 1958 for $31,500.
Chris Harrison leads The Brand Inside