Categories
Blog Communication Life Relationship

Be Interested, Not Interesting

Sometimes the key to better listening is in the questions you ask. Here are a few to get you started. Let me know what you learn!

Here on the corner of my computer screen, I have a little piece of a sticky note with the following on it:

Interested > Interesting

Meaning, being interested is better than being interesting. And, if you’re in the people business, or have any personal relationships that are important to you, this is good advice.

It comes from Mark Goulston, Author of Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.

This is a great book and, for me, has been instrumental in me trying to really deepen some personal relationships as well as going farther to develop connection with the people I work with, both as candidates, hiring managers and as just other great humans I want to know better.

The whole book is interesting. Mark, who trains hostage negotiators, opens the book with a pretty intense confrontation between a man threatening to commit suicide in a mall parking lot. You see two kinds of negotiations take place. The “Hey, you’re in big trouble so put the gun down” kind that we see on TV and a much different approach that diffuses the situation and brings a peaceful resolution — listening.

One challenge I admit that I have in listening better is, well, asking questions. It sounds funny, but I sometimes get stuck just knowing what I should be asking someone!

So, from my notebook to yours, here are some fantastic tips you should hold on to. Let me know how it goes? I am definitely curious! ?

Great Questions You Can Ask Anyone To Show You Are Interested

As quoted from the book Just Listen by Mark Goulston. See the snippet here on Kindle.

Professional:

  • “How’d you get into what you do?”
  • “What do you like best about it?” 
  • “What are you trying to accomplish that’s important to you in your career (business, life, etc.)?” 
  • “Why is that important to you?” 
  • “If you were to accomplish that, what would it mean to you and what would it enable you to do?”

Personal:

In personal relationships—for instance, at a party or on a first date—questions like these can often trigger a heartfelt response: 

  • “What’s the best (or worst) part of (coaching your kid’s soccer team, being away from home, etc.)?” 
  • “What person has had the biggest influence on your life?” 
  • “Is that the person you’re most grateful to? If not, who is?” 
  • “Did you ever get a chance to thank that individual?” (If the person asks, “Why are you asking these questions?,” you can say: “I find giving people the chance to talk about who they’re grateful to brings out the best in them.”) 

FTD Delivery

Mark goes on to talk about how he tries to get people to respond to questions that include how they feel, what they think and what they did or would do. He mentions in passing that you can use the initials of those phrases, FTD, and the name of the popular fast florist delivery company of the same initials as a way to remember the formula.

“I know that when people ask me questions that generate all three of these answers, I feel known by them in ways that I usually don’t if we’re talking exclusively about what we feel or what we think or what we did or would do.,“ Mark continues.

He finishes with these sage words that I am trying to take to heart day by day.

Much of who we are is composed of what we feel, think, and do, so when we’re in conversations where we get to express all three, we feel more satisfied. Eventually, one of your questions will click and you’ll see the person lean forward eagerly to tell you something with enthusiasm or intensity. When that happens, do the right thing: Shut up. Listen. Listen some more. And then, once the person reaches a stopping point, ask another question that proves that you heard (and care about) what the person said.”

Try this tip out and let me know how it goes!


Read The Book:

Editor’s Note: The links to Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston in this article reference Amazon.com with an affiliate code. Using this link helps to support our services. However, if you’d prefer to go directly to the book page on Amazon, this link is affiliate free !

Photo Credit: Priscilla du Preez on Unsplash

Image for Instagram:

By @AskRobMerrill

I'm Robert Merrill. I am the founder and principal consultant at ConnectedWell Recruiting and Talent Advisors, a boutique recruitment consulting agency. I have more than 15 years technical and professional recruiting experience across the US and fourteen other countries, globally.

Beside my writing here, I am working on helping make hiring more human again, publishing a newsletter, and Helping 1 Million people get better jobs in 5 years. The clock is ticking.

I also write on linkedin and medium, answer questions on quora, am funnier on twitter @askrobmerrill and trying to figure out instagram as well. Give us a follow, if you like.

Want More Answers?
Subscribe for smart, actionable daily insights you can use today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.