Elizabethkuhnke's Blog

Taking an Interest in Others

Posted on: April 11, 2011

Robust relationships develop when you’re genuinely interested in the other person.  People aren’t stupid and know if your curiosity is authentic or if it’s strictly for your own personal gain.  Feign interest and you’ll be rejected in a New York second.  Pretend to care when you couldn’t care less and you’ll be shown the door. Show sincere curiosity and concern for the someone and they’ll respond willingly to your suggestions.

Proving to someone that you’re interested in them requires giving them your full and complete attention.  Finding out about their interests, aspirations, views, and concerns builds bonds.  What do they require to do their job well and what’s getting in their way?  What inspires, drives, and motivates them to come to work every day?  The more you know about other people the more able you are to create rapport, and as I say in Chapter 2, Finding a Common Ground with Your Listener, the more you’re able to establish rapport the more able you are to produce mutually satisfying results.

<Tip> People are willing to help you if you take an interest in them. 

When you take an interest in others you build their confidence and self-esteem, you make them feel important, valued, and worthwhile.  Let someone know that they matter and watch them respond positively to your opinions, thoughts, and recommendations. 

In the list below I highlight 10 ways you can show your interest in others:

Look them in the eye.  Whether you’re meeting them for the first time or have a regular on-going relationship, when you speak, look at them.    Even if you only have a few seconds to engage, use that time to make them feel like they’re important.  Looking people in the eye with warmth and authenticity makes you come across as friendly and sincere. 

Call them by name.  Using a person’s name in all forms of communication makes them feel acknowledged as an individual.  When you remember someone’s name you’re paying them a subtle compliment by  indicating that the person’s made an impression on you, adding to their feeling of importance.

Pay attention.  Respond to what the person tells you by paraphrasing back what you heard and reacting empathetically.  Avoid responding in parrot-like fashion.  That’s insulting and shows that you’re not really engaged.  Actively listen for both what is said and the underlying feelings you observe.  You can read more about the value of active listening in Chapter 7.

Provide encouragement.  Encourage others and watch their spirits lift, their self-confidence rise, and their efforts soar.  Support them and they’ll support you.

Offer words of praise.  A genuine compliment can make a person’s day.  An admiring comment, a flattering remark, or simply saying something nice about someone your impact on them will go further than you might imagine and can lead to unexpectedly positive results.

Maintain contact in the old fashioned way.  A quick phone call to check in on someone or a card or letter sent through the post shows that you care enough to say, “Hi.  I’m thinking of you.”  Unless you simply can’t get to the phone or the shops to pick up a card, avoid emails when you want to demonstrate that you’re thinking of someone.  If you’re anything like me, your in-box is already heaving with un-answered emails waiting for a response.    More often than not people make contact these days because they want something from you.  If you get in touch the old fashioned way just because they’re on your mind and you want them to know you care about them as a person and not as a potential, they’re going to remember you in a positive light.

Ask questions.  Asking questions shows that you’re interested.  Whether you’re asking about a colleague’s plans for the week end, or inquiring after their family, showing that you’re curious about what’s important to them encourages them to share what’s important to them with you.

Acknowledge people.  When you acknowledge someone you’re letting them know you value them and think they’re important.  Paying attention to another person, even if only for a moment, contributes to their sense of self-worth and you rise in their esteem.

Demonstrate respect.  In order to earn respect you’ve got to show respect.  Remembering people’s names, showing consideration for their time and space, valuing them as individuals are a few ways of showing others that you respect them.  Gossiping, acting inconsistently, and acting in a false manner is disrespectful and won’t earn you any brownie points.   The more respect you give, the more respect you gain.

Remember special events in people’s lives.  Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are times to let someone know you’re interested enough in them to take the time to acknowledge milestones in their lives.  Let someone know you’re interested in what’s important to them and they’ll show an interest in what’s important to you.

This blog is taken from Chapter 5 of the upcoming ‘Persuasion and Influence for Dummies’ by Elizabeth Kuhnke  -due for Autumn 2011 publication.

For more information visit www.kuhnkecommunication.com

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4 Responses to "Taking an Interest in Others"

I love the sentiment in this blog post and couldn’t agree more. I don’t imagine I always get it right, but I set out to conduct myself as suggested above.

I was introduced to someone at a rather enjoyable business networking event last night – someone I’d respected from a distance – and they were scanning the room the entire time we were talking. Interestingly I’d referred her to a client in the afternoon (based purely on her reputation). Will I refer her again? It’s doubtful.

Hi Tracey. Many thanks for your feedback. For those of you who don’t know Tracey, she’s one of the most generous, genuine, and all around good gals in town. Tracey, anyone who fails to connect with you is losing a great opportunity to build a winning relationship based on trust and respect.

Hi Elizabeth
You some excellent points here, and what comes across to me very clearly is the need for courtesy. It’s so important when you speak to people, and I don’t mean by pretending to be interested but just plain, old fashioned good manners. People who demonstrate the qualities you talk about, leave you feeling like you’re someone special.
I have always found that using people’s names when you speak to them is an instant rapport builder, and it’s a simple approach to use. It’s particularly helpful if you are prone to forgetting like me-use it and you don’t lose it!
I enjoy reading your post, thank you.

Hi Sue,

Thank you for your comment and so glad you enjoyed reading this post. You make some excellent points, particularly somebody making you feel valued. I also ensure to use people’s names when speaking to them, as well as using small gestures of physical contact in order to make a connection. Many thanks for your feedback.

Kuhnke Communication

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