“I don’t care that you’ve been around the world, I want to know what you’ve experienced in those places that has shaped you into the beautiful human who you are now.“
“What are you passionate about and how does it show up in what you do?”
I was asked this by someone I met the other day.
I found it to be one of the more interesting questions I’ve been asked recently.
Generally, when I meet people at conferences, events or social gatherings I’m asked one of two questions:
“What do you do?”
“Where are you from?”
These two questions feel forced, canned and certainly not interesting.
So when someone asks me, “What are you passionate about and how does that show up with what you do?” I’m intrigued.
Well, intrigued and slightly stumped.
I knew that I could answer this in a number of ways, so I wasn’t yet sure of what I wanted to say.
I had to really think and feel into what I wanted to share with this human who I had just met.
You see, most introduction questions attempt to put us into a metaphorical box—but her question did the opposite.
I certainly wasn’t thinking, “Is she going to judge or stereotype me based on what I do?”
I was relieved. And her question opened up the conversation into a deeper understanding of how we can create more awesome and meaningful relationships.
This leads to an (interesting) discussion about being interested versus being interesting.
But first, I’m curious: do people generally feel more connected with someone when they’re talking about themselves (no matter how cool their world is or isn’t) or when they’re asking you questions about yourself that they actually want to know the answers to?
For me, it’s the latter. I love when people ask me questions that really get me to think and feel.
Not, “What do you do?” or “Where are you from?” questions, but questions that make stop and really consider the answers.
These questions don’t have to be fancy, but meaningful and connective.
Asking these questions is something I try to do whenever I’m getting to know someone else.
Most of us have been conditioned to believe that in order to become “cool” or interesting, we must be interesting — travel the world, own a business, live an unconventional life or do significant things.
This, however, is not the case.
In fact, the more I make relationships about myself or all the “cool” things that I’ve done, the more off-putting I become to others.
Ever hear someone brag and talk about all the places that they’ve been? Someone who doesn’t share this information with the intention of orienting the listener to another culture, but rather as something that makes the speaker feel significant or better in some way?
I’ve certainly experienced this and have tried to not be “that guy,” at times.
Being interesting is exhausting and it puts a lot of pressure on ourselves to keep up with an image that we think we need to be for people to like us.
Personally, I don’t care that you’ve been around the world. I want to know what you’ve experienced in those places that has shaped you into the beautiful human who you are now.
I don’t care that you’re about to sell one of your businesses for millions of dollars—I’d rather know why you started it to begin with.
I don’t care that you’ve written a NY Times best seller, but I do want to feel what you had to sacrifice to get to that achievement.
I want to know who you are, not where you’re from.
I don’t care what you do, unless you share it in a way that allows me to experience more of who you are.
So, I’ll do my best to not ask you questions that rob you of the opportunity to share how wonderfully human you are.
Will you do the same?
Be interested in an interesting way.
Ask better questions.
Listen—really listen—and watch a world of opportunities open up for you like you never expected.
Not because you wanted them to, but just because you decided to be interested in an interesting way.
Author: Josh Barad
Editor: Alli Sarazen
Photo: Jason Devaun/Flickr