When we step into leadership roles, we gain a lot of responsibilities! But we also get the excitement of gaining new relationships and strengthening current ones. One of the best parts about being a leader is getting to know the people that you lead. The fastest way to get to know the folks around you is to show interest in their lives. And let’s face it, it’s hard not to be interested in the lives of others—people are fascinating!
However, not everyone has the natural urge to socialize and familiarize themselves with others. So, we’ve collected examples of ways to show interest in people, even when you’re not entirely sure how to start.
Start With Your Interests
We’re not encouraging you to start talking about yourself and what you like to do. In fact, that’s probably a bad idea. Instead, we’re encouraging you to look inward and determine what things are most important to you. Narrow down the parts of your life that bring you joy and fulfillment. Then, think about how those factors might relate to someone else. If one of the most fulfilling parts of your life is your children, consider if the person you’re getting to know is a parent. If so, ask about their kids!
If not, look on a broader scale: Your children are part of your family. That person may not be a parent but they’re most likely part of a family. Use that common ground to ask questions about their family. Find out if they’re a younger or older sibling (or both). Ask what that experience was like through childhood. The deeper you can dive, the better, because it’ll help you understand them on a personal level.
Feel like those questions are a little too personal? Find out more about their professional life. Here’s a list of great questions that you can ask, that are strictly business:
- What are your professional goals?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you like/dislike most about your work?
- What does an average week look like for you?
- Tell me about your educational background.
- What has experience taught you that education has not?
Asking questions like these will keep conversation in the professional realm but give the opportunity to get comfortable with one another. Then, when you think it’s the right time, ask more personal questions.
Listen and Remember
When people take the time to be vulnerable with you, don’t overlook that sentiment. Show them how much you value their vulnerability by remembering what they share. If your memory isn’t the sharpest, try to write down points from your discussion, after it’s over. This way you can pull your notes up the next time you’re going to meet with them and refresh your memory. However, if you don’t think you’ll be able to remember details about your conversation, you can start training your memory!
Ask questions about the details.
As details are shared with you, ask questions to clarify what the other person is saying. Imagine yourself in their shoes, going through their experiences. When you envision yourself having that experience, you’re more likely to remember it.
Practice nightly recall.
When you’ve finally crawled into bed, and you’re about to go to sleep, spend a few minutes recalling your day. Try to remember all of the people you talked to, their names, and what you discussed. The more frequently you practice this, the more your brain will tune into each conversation you have.
Start caring more.
Although learning how to care more can’t exactly be taught in a blog, it’s important to note. With every new person you meet, truly invest yourself in their life. Relate to them on a human level. Understand that they have their own life, experiences, challenges, and successes that are no more or less valuable than your own. We all started out as infants and have grown and learned to become the people we are today. Keeping these ideas in mind will help you care a little more about the person you’re speaking to.
Involvement = Interest
One of the best ways to show your interest in someone else’s life is to get involved. If someone shares with you that they’re moving soon, offer to help them move their heavy furniture. Or give them some empty boxes if you’ve got any on hand. Even if they don’t accept your offer, it’ll mean a lot to them that you’re willing to give up a bit of your time to help! If you can’t help out, but you still want to show your interest, click this link for more tips.
Increasing Your Interest
No matter how you choose to do it, increasing your interest in other people will benefit your relationships tremendously. You’ll build strength in your current relationships and have an easier time starting new ones.
If you’ve already got great relationships that you want to invest more into, check out our blog “Invest in the Best”.