This post is part of our Monthly-ish Tips series.

I assigned the listening chapter from The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook to a group I’m working with the other day (Chapter 6), and a participant took note of one of my favorite stories in it. Which reminded me of a tip I wrote 2+ years ago on an unexpected way to be found at least a little more charismatic/ compelling/interesting/fascinating. I’m dusting it off today because introverts and extroverts alike can benefit from creating an immediate and meaningful connection in a way that’s authentic, palatable and easy.

The short and powerful story in The Fieldbook that provides the key, as told by my co-author Charlie Green, boils down to this: A colleague and his spouse were invited to an important company dinner party. The spouse was seated next to one of the key people at the dinner, and later reflected privately, “What a bore! I didn’t say two words all night; all he did was talk about himself.” The next day the colleague ran into the bore, whose experience was considerably different: “Your wife is an absolutely fascinating woman!”

Interesting how being found fascinating (or charismatic or compelling or whatever) doesn’t have much to do with you at all, at least not in the usual ways.

Charlie’s first co-author, David Maister of The Trusted Advisor fame, emphasized this same point: Shift your focus away from trying to impress others with your smarts and/or wit—in other words, away from trying to make them feel good about you when they’re around you. Instead, make an effort to be fascinated by them, and to have them feel good about themselves when they’re around you.

Trust is twisty and paradoxical like that: Be interested to be interesting; be fascinated to be fascinating; be focused on them to bring positive and appreciative attention to you.

Make It Real

This week, find an opportunity to bring your own fascination into an interaction. What would your curiosity look and sound like? What questions might you ask? How might you convey you’re really listening?

Learn More

Check out my eBook on Listening Mastery, if you haven’t already, or brush up on empathy as statements (not questions) in Chapter 6 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).