Give a Shit

Nov 20, 2013 by

“To be interesting, be interested.”

– Dale Carnegie

 

          Two Fridays ago, while at a restaurant with my now published friend, I asked him about the upcoming research he’ll be conducting for his thesis. Highly intrigued by his proposed qualitative study, I had many questions about his method, participants, and ethics. Obviously passionate about his proposal, he gave me a detailed explanation of his procedure, and relayed the frustrating two-month process of getting it approved by the ethics board. (He was finally granted approval that day!) In the midst of conversation, he suddenly stopped.

          “Oh my God, why are we talking about this?” he wondered aloud. “Tree, I swear you’re the only person that I go out with who listens to this crap. Why are you so interested?”

          I shrugged my shoulders as I sunk a piece of bread into the disappointing goat cheese dip that I had ordered. “I don’t know,” I responded. “You’re my friend. I want to know what’s going on in your life.”

          He smiled before going on to recount dates during which he’s discussed his research. “Seriously, when I’m out with girls, I have these out-of-body experiences. I feel like I’m floating above myself. While looking down, I think, Oh my God, stop talking! You’re boring her!” he told me. “I don’t mean to sound cocky, but sometimes I feel like other people aren’t educated enough to follow what I’m saying.”

          “The last girl you were seeing was in her fourth year of university,” I pointed out. “She’s nearly at the same education level as I am.”

          “Yeah, but she hasn’t learned anything. She’s one of those people that are just trying to get through school, you know?”

          “Yeah, I know what you mean,” I smirked, raising my hand above my head to remind him that I, as a post-secondary-education-hater, was one of those people.

          “I know that you didn’t like university, but you’re intelligent. You can talk about studies. You can easily contribute to and carry conversations. Tree, this girl’s eyes were glazed over as I spoke,” he made his point.

          “That sucks, bud,” I laughed. “So, tell me how you got the board members to approve!” I urged. I was eager to hear how he charmed them into granting permission to execute a study on the normalization of drugs in society despite the possibility of him being subpoenaed for evidence on his participants. (Conversational use of the word subpoena, no matter how nerdy the context, is the closest I’m ever going to get to Suits in real life.)

 

***

 

          Reflecting on this excerpt of our night, it made me feel really good that I had made him feel interesting, which encouraged him to elaborate on the research he loves but doesn’t get to discuss with most other friends. I recalled something that I once read: “To be interesting, be interested.” (I can’t remember where I read this, but Google tells me it was Dale Carnegie who said it.) This stuck with me. Genuinely caring about what is happening in people’s lives, I instinctively illustrate my interest in others by asking questions and making an effort to follow up. I’m naturally curious and I have a good memory when it comes to people. (Seriously, I remember things about people that I’ve only met once in the elevator.) After my friend brought my evident interest to my attention that night, I was reminded of the intent behind my intrigue: to make other people feel good, which in turn makes me feel amazing. People like those who find them interesting. Like anyone, I like to be liked.

Happiness Tip: Be interested.

 
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