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Turning Monologues to Dialogues

Have you ever been eager to escape a conversation because the other person is dominating the conversation, insistent on being in the spotlight?  I think we have been caught in one of these conversations and may even have been the perpetrator at times.  Looking back on my early experiences with networking, when I was trying to find my place, I know I have.  I was eager to impress and to prove to the others that I belonged there, although, on reflection, I now see that it was my own need for validation that caused my behavior.  Since then, I’ve learned over time that true engagement does not come from trying to be the most interesting person in the room; it comes from being the most interested person.  Oh, and this blog which is a one-way conversation doesn’t count! 😊


With my calendar starting to fill up with 2024 networking events, I’m reminded of the transformative power of shifting focus from being interesting to being interested. At my local cigar lounge, where many good conversations are held over a nice cigar, I’ve seen how easily a conversation can be hijacked by someone’s intent on turning the spotlight onto themselves and how quickly the momentum and interest in the conversation is lost.  In contrast, at one networking event I attend, someone sparked our circle’s interest and engagement by simply asking, ‘so, what’s your story?’  With this one simple question, you could almost see the dynamic shift, and the group energy surge as everyone leans in, eager to share. This moment crystallizes the magic of showing interest: it’s not about overshadowing, but about illuminating the room with collective narratives, transforming monologues into vibrant dialogues.


I understand that we may all experience imposter syndrome. It may sometimes sneak up on us, especially when we’re faced with questions like ‘so, what do you do?’ or when we feel we are surrounded by many interesting, successful people.  It’s natural to want to present ourselves in the best light. But I’ve come to realize that this does not involve trying to impress a group with your accomplishments; it’s having the confidence to turn the spotlight outward and experience the joy of discovering the stories and dreams of others.  Doing this creates richer connections and often leaves others with a good impression of the conversation. When was the last time you walked away from a conversation feeling truly seen and heard? Chances are, it was with someone who showed genuine interest in you, not someone who spent the entire time auditioning for the role of “Most Interesting Person at the Party.”


So, the next time you are navigating a social event, embrace curiosity about others. Ask questions, listen deeply, and let yourself be surprised by the depth of connection that follows. You may discover that in seeking to understand, you inadvertently become one of the most interesting people in the room—not for the stories you tell about yourself, but for the space you create for others.


Life, after all, is infinitely more delightful when we’re genuinely curious about the stories unfolding before us.  What connections will you make this weekend?


“Instead of talking in the hope that people will listen, try listening in the hope that people will talk.” – Mardy Grothe


Have a great weekend.