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Be The Most Interesting Person in The Room

Have you ever been at a party, dinner, group conversation and either you felt you had nothing to contribute, or you were interacting with a person and felt they had nothing to contribute? I'm talking about that moment when small talk has faded to the beyond and you have said everything there is to say about the weather, the next upcoming sporting event, or work. They have given you the vibe they don’t want to talk to you about their kids or don’t want to hear about yours.

You stand there awkwardly with a glass in your hand smiling, or they do, and … now what?


I kid. No running.

Instead become the most interesting person in the room. Read.

This is not a specific defense of reading nonfiction, though it is perhaps more focused on it. Imagine every few sentences a person said, you had read a book that touched on the topic. Imagine you had an insightful question to give back with every utterance or you had a factoid to throw into the room and see what people thought to spark new conversation. "I've heard about XYZ, what do you think of ABC?" People will want to talk to you more. That is the power reading gives us. Not only will it help us articulate those thoughts, as we have talked about before, it gives the raw material to start and maintain the conversations.

We are finite creatures who have lived a finite lifetime and have had personal experiences that are likewise limited. But, in any meaningful sense there is an infinite variety of things we can learn about from books. Recently in a bookstore I picked up a book on loom function from 1900. Why? I have no idea. I knew nothing about the topic but maybe it would have touch points to electricity, and modernization at the turn of the last century. It did all of those things.

The point is that reading can be a way to expand ourselves to learn things we never knew we needed to know. Non-fiction can serve the same purpose. We may not be good at talking to other people, but the characters we read about might be. One of the hallmarks of a good fiction is good dialogue, believable dialogue that can teach us how to speak to others, if we practice. Read it out loud, feel how the words sound coming out of your mouth.

When I say read, I am talking about reading deeply on a topic. Avoid being the person who can drop one tidbit but then has to retreat if the conversational sparing partner asks you for more. Go beyond the brief hundred-word article and headline, go past the YouTube shorts, and actually get to know some topic by reading substantially. For every few minutes a person talks about a topic they know, a mountain of hours lies beneath the surface for things they did not say. Conversation is very often an iceberg of data.

Reading can enable us to be the most interesting person in the room, and make other people feel just as interesting for wanting to be part of the conversation. We can learn how to lead them to say more. Learn how topics and people relate. Go read and read deeply. You can’t pick the wrong book.

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Anna Varlese
Anna Varlese
Apr 29, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I love this one! It is hard for me to talk about myself or small talk but love talking about topics like medicine or brain quirks and exchanging authors. Being interesting also comes from having life experiences like travel snafus, which also take longer to have than to tell.

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