Be Interested Before Interesting

Would people say you are curious? Or would they say you tend to boomerang in conversations? defines the verb form of boomerang [boo-muh-rang] as to come back or return, as a boomerang and to cause harm to the originator; backfire. People who have this tendency miss so many opportunities to connect with others and learn new things because they do not listen well. This behavior could also be damaging their relationships and hindering their influence on others. We teach a GiANT tool called the Boomerang Effect because we want people to become more influential by being ‘interested’ before ‘interesting.’


Everyone has probably fallen into the behavior of wanting to be interesting to others and thus make the conversation about themselves at some point. Unfortunately, this tendency will undermine our influence. Being more concerned about being interesting to others rather than being interested in them looks like this:

  • Name-dropping.
  • Place-dropping.
  • “One-up” what other people have shared.
  • “Knowing more” than what others have shared.

Whether we are aware that we are doing this or not, this behavior communicates that we are more for ourselves than for the other person in that moment. This will hinder building trust and chemistry with others and people may begin to avoid you. Part of being for others and developing greater influence with them includes tuning into their interests and life in general.

And if for some reason you cannot shake the feeling of wanting to be interesting to others, consider this quote from Dale Carnegie in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, “To be interesting, be interested.”


Showing interest in others first allows us to learn things about people and paves the way for greater influence and impact.

When I decided many years ago to begin listening more and talking less, as someone who had a lot to say, it was not an easy task. As I grew in my listening skills though, I realized that most of what I said did not need to be said at all. I also learned that listening more kept me out of trouble and taught me more about life in general, others, and my job at the time. The days I listened well were some of the most fulfilling days I experienced. Why? Because a whole new world of learning and observing began to open up to me. Here are things listening taught me and continue to bless me with today:

  • Learning from other people’s mistakes of talking too much.
  • Observing the needs of others and being able to act on those needs.
  • Keeping me out of trouble.
  • Observing different behaviors in others and how people who are very different from each other may clash or connect.
  • Knowing others at a deeper level.
  • Growing both personally and professionally through taking in more knowledge because I talk less.
  • Allowing me to speak with wisdom because I listen well.

Here is something I realized was happening each time I tuned into others and became interested in them…

I walked away with a heart smile because I learned something about them that day.

It was a funny discovery for me and a nice one. It still happens each time I tune into others. I chuckle to myself wondering if I also have a goofy grin on my face when my heart smiles. 😊 The heart smiles also give me mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits I did not expect. I hope you get to experience this as well if you have not already.

Active Listening Audit

Some people are naturally good listeners and others have to work at it. Eye contact – but not in a weird way – is essential in listening well to others. We use a GiANT tool called the Active Listening Audit to help determine the areas in our listening skills that can use improvement. It consists of five questions that help you reflect and consider your listening tendencies. The most effective way to use this tool is to rate yourself and have someone you trust to rate you then compare the two ratings to identify areas of growth.

Here are the five questions:

  1. How good am I at taking the time to truly understand?
  2. How good am I at asking open-ended questions to draw out what others are really trying to say?
  3. How good am I at being able to summarize what I think I’ve heard from someone to check I’ve gotten it right?
  4. How good am I at using body language to communicate interest and attentiveness in a conversation?
  5. How good am I at resisting the temptation to jump in and assume I know what the other person is talking about?

Once you identify your areas of growth, create a simple plan by identifying what actions you will take for improvement. For example:

  • The Active Listening Audit revealed to you that you tend to interrupt and make assumptions about what other people are saying.
  • You set an intention to begin only listening to others instead of thinking about what you assume they are saying.
  • Then you start practicing the newly intended behavior.
  • When you find yourself interrupting and making assumptions, stop yourself, simply apologize, and ask the person to keep speaking.
  • If you go back to your interrupting and assuming tendency altogether, don’t be hard on yourself. Start over with the intention of changing. We call this calling yourself up and not out because you call yourself up to better behavior instead of berating yourself for the old behavior.

It is important to not try to conquer everything all at once. Start by making small changes. Then continue to use this audit over and over to keep your active listening skills in check.

Would you like to know how to better lead yourself and others? CLG can help you to become a leader worth following. Contact us today!

-Melissa Spangler

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