A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

11 Secrets to Becoming the Most Interesting Person in the Room

Looking for tips on how to be more interesting? With a little effort, your popularity will soar.

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Young smiling people enjoying coffee

Don’t ramble, and stay positive

This simple advice comes from Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert: “Brevity will slow the inevitable decline in your popularity caused by talking. And saying something positive as often as possible will be a mood booster to whoever is in the room with you. If you set a positive tone, it rubs off.” Check out these magic phrases that can save an awkward conversation.

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Student writes notes into notebook on white desk with black pen, top view

Act like your heroes

Write down the names of the ten most interesting people you know, and list three characteristics that earned them a place on the list, suggests author and speaker Scott Ginsberg on his blog. Then look for patterns and figure out a way to incorporate those characteristics into your own public persona. Find out how to join a conversation at a party without being awkward.

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Elevated View Of Businessperson And Candidates Hand With Resume On White Desk

Nail that “Tell me about yourself” question

You know the details intimately, but distilling the most interesting parts of your life into cocktail chatter can be a challenge. Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Chip Heath suggests applying one of these three plots to your life story: either the challenge plot (you overcame an obstacle to get to where you are); the creativity plot (you decided not to follow a traditional path); or the connection plot (you did something similar to the person asking). Learn how to answer 16 of the trickiest job interview questions.

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Two women walking in the street talking, full length
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Ask, and listen

Start with the other person’s hobbies, family, or upcoming travel plans, and go from there. If you know about the subject, conversation will flow. If you don’t, continue asking questions to understand more—and pay attention to the answers. Steal these things good listeners do during every conversation.

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 23 Contemporary Authors You Should Know and The Best Short Books You’ll Ever Read to get you started.

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Shot from above of african american athlete man using mobile phone.

Listen to podcasts

If slogging through a dense book sounds like the last thing you need, download some interesting podcasts. You can learn quotable tidbits, inspiring ideas, and meaningful stories on your morning commute or while cleaning the house.

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Woman wearing a statement necklace
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Wear a conversation piece

“Wearing a distinctive clothing item can be a great icebreaker,” writes professional speaker Dorie Clark, who does a lot of networking as part of her job. Choosing a brooch from your trip to Italy or a tie with your college mascot could spark conversation and find some common ground. Don’t miss these other 11 ways to make interesting small talk.

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Tired bored girl sitting and drinking coffee with her boyfriend at a cafe outdoors and looking away
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Recognize when you’re being boring

Of course you’re passionate about the ins and outs of your job, because you spend most of your time with them—but that doesn’t mean everyone else cares. Being interesting means knowing when you’re not, so pay attention to body language. If people listening are glazing over, fidgeting, or scanning the room impatiently, it’s time for a change of subject.

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Group of happy friends chatting in the street. Friendship concept.

Ask open-ended questions

If you want your question to spark a great discussion, stay away from questions that can be answered in one word. Open-ended questions require a more in-depth answer, which gives you both more details to work with. For instance, “How was your weekend?” can be answered with “Good,” but “What was the best part of your weekend?” could launch a story. Try these 37 conversation starters that make you seem more interesting.

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Have stories in mind

You wouldn’t go into a job interview without prepping a few stories to sprinkle in that show how interesting (and qualified) your experience is. If you know you’ll be at an event where you need to make small talk, dream up a few go-to anecdotes before you arrive. If there’s a lull in conversation, whip one out and get the chatter back. Here are 14 more traits of charismatic people you can steal.

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Two cheerful middle-aged female friends talking while sitting on the bench
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Invest some emotion

People will only be interested in your story if they can relate, whether they’ve had a similar experience or can picture themselves in one, writes author and speaker Bob Caporale. Stories about other people tend to be relatable, while rambling about items—say, your new dishwasher—might not be. Borrow these other 16 habits of naturally charming people.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.