Add to your bag of life skills with some tips on making yourself that person everyone wants to talk to.
Live an interesting life
This first tip isn’t rocket science: people will find you more interesting if you do interesting things. Hang out with a diverse range of people, check out that new bar, take a book recommendation from a mate with different tastes, go to a mid-week gig, buy a subscription to the New York Times, travel somewhere exotic, fill your phone with podcasts. Expand your mind, man.
Be an all-rounder
Anyone who’s ever won the big prize on Who Wants to be a Millionaire didn’t get there by specialising in Greco Roman wrestling or Nicaraguan cuisine or 18th Century Russian literature — they needed a little bit of knowledge on a wide range of topics, and the same goes for good conversation with interesting people. That said, enthusiasm about an area of expertise demonstrates passion and purpose, and is an inspiring, magnetic quality.
If you’re the one saying “Hey Lauren, have you met Mark?”, you’re the one holding court — introducing people to each other comes across as confident and warm, and has a magnetic effect on the room. Making the effort to include people in conversation builds rapport and increases your influence within the group, as people gravitate towards you.
Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, wrote that to be interesting, you have to be interested — so ask people about their favourite topic: themselves. Listen intently and ask sincere follow-up questions to show you’re engaged in the discussion, and you’ll become the bloke in the room everyone wants to chat to.
You spot someone at the table running low on their glass of wine? Offer them a refill. They’re looking for a menu? Pop up to grab one. They ask where the loo is? Point the way. Even just being generous with your attention and conversations means people will reciprocate by having more time for you in return.
No one likes a game of one-upmanship — we’ve all been stuck in conversation with someone who tops every story (if you own a cat, he’s got a puma; if you’re holidaying to Europe, he’s booked a ticket to the moon) — but you’ll appear more fascinating with a couple of go-to stories up your sleeve. Show off your sense of humour, too — the room’s attention is always fixed on the man making people laugh.