Published on August 16, 2017
Dr. Travis Bradberry
Coauthor EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0 & President at TalentSmart
Interesting people have a special magnetism. They tell incredible stories and lead unusual lives. But what exactly makes them so captivating?
They’re curious more than anything else. An interesting person is always excited to explore the world, and this energy radiates outward.
Some people are naturally interesting, but there are also ways to learn to be more engaging. Dr. Clair Nixon is known throughout Texas A&M as an incredibly interesting accounting professor (an oxymoron if there ever was one). Accounting is a difficult subject to make interesting and fun, which is what makes Dr. Nixon so special. He’s so good at making things interesting that he doesn’t just teach accounting, he also gives lectures on how to be more interesting.
Indeed, anyone can learn to become more interesting, which is a wonderful thing, because being interesting can help you strengthen your network, win more clients, and lead more effectively.
There are several habits that many interesting people have in common. Sometimes these habits form naturally, but they are more often than not the result of conscious effort. Here’s what interesting people do to make themselves engaging, unusual, and hypnotizing.
They are passionate. Jane Goodall, a bona fide interesting person, left her home in England and moved to Tanzania at age 26 to begin studying 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 to them.
They try new things. Interesting people do what interests them. They know what they want, and they’re brave enough to take the steps to get there. This often means trying new things—things at which they’re often terrible at first. The very act of seeking new experiences also happens to be great for your mood, and people who are happy are magnetic and far more interesting to be around than downers.
They don’t hide their quirks. Interesting people often have unusual preferences that don’t fit the norm. They’re open and unabashed about who they are, which gives everyone a good look at these interesting tendencies. Billionaire Warren Buffett, for example, has never been suited to the high-rolling lifestyle. Instead, he still lives in the same modest house he bought in 1958 for $31,500. It might seem quirky—or even strange—for such an incredibly wealthy man to live so frugally, but Buffett doesn’t sacrifice his preferences because of what’s expected of him.
They avoid the bandwagon. Nothing is more boring than following the bandwagon, and interesting people are intent on forging their own paths. There’s often nothing wrong with what everyone else is doing; it’s just that interesting people are innovators, who break conformity to pursue new, exciting, and yes, interesting ideas.
They check their egos at the door. An egomaniac is never interesting. Egomaniacs are always posturing, always worrying about how they’ll come across. It’s exhausting, and it’s also dishonest. Take Oprah Winfrey—an interesting and interested person. In a speech to the Stanford University graduating class of 2008, she said, “The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead. Every right decision I’ve made—every right decision I’ve ever 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 of myself.” Oprah’s advice is so important: listen to your values, goals, and ambitions, rather than worrying about what will make you look good.
They’re always learning. To interesting people, the world has infinite possibilities. This curiosity about the unknown leads to constant learning, fueled by an ever-burning desire to discover the unknown. Despite his intelligence and accomplishments, Albert Einstein kept a sense of wonder throughout his life that made him continue to ask questions about the world. Like Einstein, interesting people are in a constant state of wonder.
They share what they discover. The only thing interesting people enjoy as much as learning is sharing their discoveries with others. While some will spin engaging yarns about their exciting travels, there’s more to it than that. Interesting people are interesting because they feel out their conversational partner to see what sparks that person’s interest. They don’t share to expose all of the interesting things they’ve done; they share for other people to enjoy.
They don’t worry about what others think of them. Nothing is more uninteresting than someone who holds their true self back because they’re afraid that other people might not like it. Instead, interesting people are true to themselves wherever they are, whoever they’re with, and in whatever they’re doing. Interesting people are authentic to a fault. The famous English author Charles Dickens personified this. No matter where he was working—in a friend’s house or in a hotel—he would bring specific pens and objects and arrange them precisely. While his behavior may have seemed strange, he was always true to himself.
Bringing It All Together
It might not always be easy to incorporate these habits into daily life, but that’s what makes the people who do so interesting—they go against the grain, and that’s undeniably interesting. While I know that you’re already interesting, never forget to keep exploring the world and staying true to yourself.
What other qualities make people interesting? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, TIME, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.