Being interested with a shared moment

How to be interesting so genuine connections are made

Being interested should have a purpose


I wrote a post about being interested makes you interesting and the value of being interesting, particularly if you want to affect change. This still holds true, but Vanessa Van Edwards offers the idea that being interested in someone should have a purpose so genuine connections are made. Listen to her podcast interview with Donald Miller from Building a StoryBrand.


The background to writing this piece is I went for a coffee the other day to a place that I don’t always go. I got chatting to the owner, who has been running the cafe/coffee shop for 18 years with his wife. He has worked hard building it from 4 to 24 staff. They have put both their children through school. They are now out in the world hoping to make a contribution to the world and mentions how proud he is of them.


He talked about having a purpose, money shouldn’t be the end game and being happy was important. He grew up in China. His wife is a little Philippine, a little Chinese and a little Spanish. He has made opportunities happen in Australia, and he is a happy man. He has travelled to many parts of the world, but he doesn’t need to keep travelling – he is happy at home. He will return home to visit his family next year and is encouraged that his adult children are showing an interest in learning his native language. We now know each other’s name, which I can use next time I am grabbing a coffee.

3 things I took away from this podcast: 

“How to become the most captivating person in the room”

(there are many more so I encourage you to listen all the way through)


1. Listen with purpose

The purpose Vanessa likes to use is to get someone to say “oh gosh yes, me too” or “yes I am the same” because her objective is to get a genuine connection with the person she is speaking with. When this occurs serotonin kicks in – it is the chemical that makes us feel accepted, makes us feel heard, make us calm. When conversations are aimless they create anxiety – you know those small talk questions that lead to awkward silences. She shares some how-to’s, toward the end of audio (45.00).


2. Keep your hands where I can see them

There is a whole lot of primal stuff going on when we can’t see each others hands and it boils down to trust – can I believe what this person is telling me? Keep this in mind the next time you meet someone and you want to build rapport with them. Yes, it could be you are just trying to keep them warm in your pockets, but it is worth bringing them out, even if it is just for a moment.


3. Go on a ‘small talk diet’

Instead of “What do you do?” she suggests “Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?” This may feel a little unnatural at first but when you try it a few times, and put your own emphasis on it, the reactions can be enlightening.

The people that drain us are the people we are ambivalent about. - Vanessa Van Edwards

(17:40) Listen to what she means by this.

Listen with purpose

Vanessa suggests that people don’t want to be defined by what they do or what they study, particularly if it is something they are not passionate about (I will be talking about this more and more). Dopamine is produced in the brain when we are excited. This happens when we make someone feel good. When we make someone feel good they are more likely to remember you.


I didn’t specifically use this in my conversation I mentioned above. Rather, Lance poured me a glass of water and opened with “Nice people live around here, where do you live?” After sharing that “I lived around here” I asked how long had he been in the area and the conversation just flowed from there. And yes, we had “aah, I agree” moments. I wonder if he will remember my name? I usually have to thump my chest “you know like Tarzan and Jane.”

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