How to generate genuine interest in others

social skills Jan 27, 2024
How to generate genuine interest in others

Did you know that 99% of social skills can be boiled down to having an interest in others? And I mean real interest, not the kind that you do to be polite. Today, we'll be discussing how to generate genuine interest in others so you can take your social skills to the next level.

The most important things to keep in mind are:

  • Conversation on easy mode
  • The reciprocity rule
  • Stop stopping yourself from connecting with others

Social skills underpin almost everything

The main reason to sharpen your social skills is because they are involved in almost everything in life. The vast majority of things in life worth stressing over will involve others.

If you aren't that adept at handling interactions with others, then you are making life in general more difficult for yourself. Those with sharp social skills tend to have better lives, if only socially.

Conversation on easy mode

I remember the first time I tried to join a conversation. It fell completely flat. It was horrible and I wanted to be swallowed up by the earth. Looking back, I see now that it fell apart largely because I wasn't paying attention to what they were already saying.

When we want to talk to others, we generally get stuck in our heads thinking of what to say. We want to make sure we have the perfect line set up for when we get to speak.

More often than not, however, this only backfires. Instead of having the perfect thing to say when you get the opportunity, you get so stuck that the opportunity never shows itself.

The first step to generating genuine interest in others is to understand that not doing so will backfire a lot and only make things more difficult.

Too many people want a quick fix to their problems, and conversation is no different. They want the technique that solves the issue so they don't have to think.

Ironically, the fix is not to think by paying attention. Pay attention to what they are saying, and your head will come up with things to say in response in real-time.

It's so simple, yet so effective. When you give yourself the freedom to just listen and take in what they are saying, you will find yourself with conversations that are so much more enjoyable.

Genuine interest demands reciprocity

Everything requires balance to stay healthy. Whenever we skew too heavily to one side, that's when things get out of whack. When I was younger, I failed to grasp this rule, and that led to a lot of my interactions falling flat and being boring.

When it comes to conversation, people's favorite topic is themselves. That includes you, and it can be treated like a resource.

When talking to others, it's very possible to have them talk for over 30 minutes about themselves. However, the majority of the time this won't happen. There needs to be some sort of back-and-forth.

The easiest way of getting this exchange to happen is to share something from your side that is related to what you want to know from their side.

For example, if you wanted to ask them about their day you could start by talking about what's happened in your day so far. You can go as hard as you want with as much detail as you want.

What this does is it permits them to talk about their day with as much detail or as much vigor as you. If you went there, it only makes sense that you'd be okay with them doing the same.

This also extends to asking about their day. The majority of people when asked how they're doing will throw the question right back. However, this often leads to conversations that dry up quickly.

An easy way to generate genuine interest in others is to show genuine interest in yourself.

Relying on others to provide all the material for keeping a conversation going is stupid. Yes, others like to talk about themselves, but they also have no idea if you'd be interested in what they have to say.

When we show that we are genuinely interested in what we did, especially if we talk about it on our initiative, then they are more likely to reciprocate and do the same. The energy you exhibit in this regard is what encourages them to do the same.

It's important to take in what others say in conversation, but it's also important to give them something to take in. Conversation is a two-way street, and both of you need enough fuel to keep driving.

Stop making things harder than they need to be

 The number one reason most guys don't do enough is because they stop themselves from doing it. They either think it's not enough or they shouldn't do something unwarranted. I used to think this way, and I've learned that the majority of things are fine to do.

We live in a society that encourages politeness and kindness. When you grow up in a religion like I did, you hear it twice as much; in school, home, and church.

The main thing that screwed me up in this regard was the combination of having to raise my hand to speak in school combined with the golden rule of Christianity and my low self-esteem.

I had led myself to believe that if I talked about what I wanted to with others, I'd only annoy them. And since I didn't want to be annoyed myself, I ended up never initiating social interactions.

I didn't bother asking others for permission if I could talk to them because something in me told me it would be awkward and uncalled for. But then this only served to continue the downward spiral of my self-esteem since I didn't have many enjoyable social interactions. 

The main point I'm getting at here is that the only thing that stopped me from talking to others was myself. I had no idea if they wanted to talk to me or not, I was just assuming they didn't.

To generate genuine interest in others, you need to give yourself permission to do so and act upon it. 

Many people have genuine interest in others, they just never act on it out of fear of rejection. They stop themselves from having an enjoyable interaction because they believe it won't be enjoyable.

This mindset is often rooted entirely in your head. There's no grounds for this assumption being true, you just assume it to avoid potential discomfort.

Instead of making things harder for yourself and them, allow yourself to make genuine connections with others. If this means you need to initiate, then allow yourself to do that.

Genuine interest leads to a better life

When you show interest in others, the interactions you have become a lot more enjoyable and memorable. As you have more of these, you create a positive feedback loop that encourages you to have more enjoyable interactions with others.

The key to having a higher quality of life is to have higher-quality connections with others. It's so much easier to connect with others when you have actual, real interest in them and their life.

- Karl