The Most Interesting Person in the Room is Not Me. Setting aside my personal opinion.

It’s better to leave my presentation behind than to leave my curiosity on the shelf.

Real estate agents are interviewed every day. Whether or not I’ll be offered the job of representing this person in a real estate transaction depends on how the other person feels about themselves after meeting me. When I’m at my best and the results are what I desired I leave the appointment knowing I was not the most interesting person in the room, and the client knows from our conversation that my consideration for their well being is authentic. My curiosity was not intrusive, and it was real.

The skill of conversation can be improved by if you choose, and dramatically change the outcome of your interviews. A person with sharp conversation skills is an engaged listener. They have a real curiosity which invites the interviewer to share their expectations and fears. The goal of the skilled conversationalist is learning what matters to the other person. Time spent uncovering the other person’s story dwarfs the time spent on trying to impress the interviewer with their story.

Maybe the conversation isn’t about what I can do for you, but more about what hopes, fears, desires, concerns you have. Maybe my part in the conversation isn’t about telling you about my success and accomplishments and the cool features of my service. Before going to an interview to be hired as your Realtor I should ask myself what I know about your success, your accomplishments, hopes, dreams, fears, concerns. Until we meet it is unlikely that I know much about you or your situation. To be prepared for the meeting, I would be better off leaving my “presentation” behind than leaving my curiosity on the shelf. It’s the authentic interest, and questions which give the interviewer a chance to shine that’s going to make a difference. My presentation may be interesting only to me. Your story is important to you and you’ll be interested in knowing I’m interested and I’m listening.

I believe the skill of conversation and authentic curiosity can be developed by anyone regardless of their years of experience in their field. When up against the most accomplished Realtor with the most decades of results and boat loads of references, the less experienced or accomplished agent can tilt the advantage to themselves by not trying to be the most interesting person in the room. It’s fascinating how relaxing it is to be the one with the most curiosity. When there is no attempt to impress, there is no pressure to impress.

Is there any skill more important than being able to have a conversation without being bored or offending? Ten Ways to A Better Conversation with Celeste Headlee from Ted Talks. If I just master one it’ll be a great use of the rest of the summer.

Intelligence Happens When Curiosity Replaces Skepticism

Skepticism is comfortable. Being skeptical of a perspective, alternative approach, or belief requires only the effort to be dismissive. Curiosity requires action and opening your mind to possibilities. Those possibilities include discovering new insight, ideas, solutions, and even concluding that you had good reason to be skeptical.

Learning about perspectives, alternatives, and ideas is the start of expanding intelligence. Just the start. Acquiring intelligence, like wisdom, requires curiosity. “I hear what you’re saying, and you’re challenging my beliefs which I am sincerely confident of being right. So, I’m curious to learn if you have something worth knowing. Let me test your idea.”

For true testing to happen, our minds have to be open to the possibility that the theory being tested could change our beliefs, the core of our practice, and the world will never be the same. Willingness is an open mind; the mind of a person of humility. Willing to be exposed to another way, a better way, a theory which is not our own is an admirable quality of intelligent people. For several years I’ve been learning with a diverse group of people who desire become more effective, smarter, independent, and valuable. I’ve noticed something. The “aha moment” happens after a person moves from skeptic to curious.

The skeptic hears some of what’s being explained and quickly begins to counter the idea, typically by applying flawed logic, and holding fast to familiar ideas. It’s when the skeptic becomes curious and looks for proof, or evidence of proof that the knowledge becomes intelligence. The curious person will apply the new concept to a real life situation and if the concept produces results (which it must because results are exactly what comes of any action) the evidence of right or wrong becomes tangible. Once we see something as a consequence of an action, that consequence is our proof.

Two people shared their aha moment with me this week. In both cases there was doubt. Being patient with the doubter is a challenge when we want results and we want them now. Patience is fast becoming the one character trait I desire most. Because my business is helping other people get what they want, and accomplishing that “getting” is harder than ever today, when I hear a person tell me “I got it! I know we broke through a barrier, and their life has changed for the better. I know the person has gained intelligence. And that’s why I am inspired to be exactly where I am today. It’s good to be skeptical. It’s powerful to be curious.