Discover more from Aamer's Letters
Power Of Showing Genuine Interest In Other People
News of the new year, mastering social obligations and an answer to the coaching v mentoring scenario.
Hey there Zedites,
What a week it’s been.
With Dubai slashing the 30% alcohol tax, Russia using made-in-Iran Shahed drones to avenge the attack on Russian-occupied Makiivka, Hawkeye in need of healthcare and Rishabh Pant rummaged through the remains of a road accident, Bankman-Fried expected to plead not guilty and
Prince Harry not wanting an institution, 2023 doesn’t feel all that different.
However, at the risk of professing our clairvoyance, 2023 might just be the year of change for you. Don’t read Monday’s issue, we’ll come off as contradictory.
Want to know how 2023 can be your year of change? This is how - plug your email in if you’ve received this as a forward or have stumbled on to us on Substack.
Hey, we’re not pompous. On the contrary, we’ve been dazzled by the voodoo of marketers creating a ‘marketing hype’ at every turn. Did it work? Did it?
A Story For You
There are two ways of perceiving social obligations:
Whinging about the very fact that they exist and avoiding them till death do us part OR
Mastering the art of interacting with your fellow humans.
Robert W. Sussman, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences has found through his examination of primates that while the animals are very close as a group, active social interaction takes up a mere five to 10 percent of their average day.
“So 90 percent or more of primate behavior is maintenance behavior in a social context,” Sussman said.
He said animals, and humans for that matter, benefit from being social. And if that’s true, he argued, there should be evolutionary evidence to back it up. And there is.
“There are two areas of the primate and human brain that are stimulated when we cooperate. We’ve evolved to get pleasure from cooperation,” he said.
The hormones serotonin and oxytocin also play a role in social recognition and trust.
Before you probe alternatives for serotonin and oxytocin i.e. supplements, on the World Wide Web, hear us (yes, read, we know) out.
While we’re not skeptical that all the ways catalogued above will help you in being perceived as more likable, we always have a yearning for making things simpler. Paying homage to the culinary world, if we were to make a reduction sauce with the methodologies above, it would simmer down to the Dale Carnegie-approved ‘Be interested in other people’, primarily because it perfectly incorporates all the other points and shoots six birds with one stone. Easy, right?
Not really, no. It was actually easier when we were young. We all had this stupefying ability to just say, “Friends? Friends,” without beating around the bush or carrying the burden of being judgmental. And it’s not because we were gullible or innocent - at that age, the majority of us are, so the characteristic gets nullified (like a math equation cancelling out the x on opposite sides). It was actually because we were curious. Say what you would about schools, it was a multicultural hotpot at the time - a place where you were exposed to different people, cultures, ways, religions, sometimes even languages.
The “Aargh, something new to learn again?” was “Really? Ooh, that’s new to me,” at the time. We all were genuinely interested in other people and with that came - listening intently, smiling often, forcing ourselves to remember people’s names, emulating and talking in terms of the other person and in the process, making them feel important.
It was only when we put on a few years that we started to gauge the world differently. The ability, and more importantly the patience to be interested in things, let alone people, slowly dissipated because of our preconceived notion of knowing everything. Now, more so than the 1970s or 80s, because of the internet. Information had to be sourced from fellow human beings or books before but now, we all know where we go for information. Thank you, Google.
On the rare occasion, however, you come across one person that really stands out from the crowd. Their ability to gel with anyone is uncanny as they win hearts, respect and admiration. You’re baffled with their aura and are inquisitive about their methods when all they’ve done is preserved their child-like instincts of really wanting to know more about the people around them. More importantly, they’re able to put aside everything they know, sit quietly and bask in the knowledge that you’re bestowing upon them as the seamless conversation moves forward. It’s not always that they will agree or remember everything you blab, but that isn’t critical, is it? What’s significant about the interaction is that they showed interest. They leaned in, smiled, nodded in confirmation and put their point across when you guys reached a cul-de-sac.
On long trips to Europe and Asia, I have sat next to a blind Olympiad gold medalist swimmer, the third most famous jazz tap dancer in the entire world and a young member of a special forces unit who spent an entire weekend in a box as part of his training! And the only way I learned who these people were was by asking them questions about themselves.
With attention span taking a serious blow, genuinely being interested in someone else and climbing Mount Everest are at par in terms of their level of difficulties. But it’s not always the case, there are exceptions. All of the above practices come into play when we are interested in mating with someone. Our attention spans get a mammoth dose of adrenaline, we implement every single technique in the book and we’re completely different individuals when we compute the possibility of copulation.
If only, we could do all of that without an agenda. It’d be a different world, wouldn’t it?
Regardless, channelize your inner child. It starts with you. The mind is powerful tool - if you radiate positivity, that’s what you’re going to get. If you’re genuinely interested in other people, that’s exactly what you’re going to get as well - friends who are genuinely interested in you.
It’s quite simple. Every time you meet people you imagine one of the two following things:
You are Sherlock Holmes. Every person is the most interesting person in the world. Your job is to figure out why.
Every person is an expert in something you are not. Learn from them.
(Credits: Arsalan Ahmad on Medium)
A Look Into The Past
LinkedIn is a great place to start conversations and a comment on our page, in regards to our previous issue, nudged us to delineate the domains of a coach and a mentor. And while we’re not experts on the topic, we’re good researchers.
Mentoring: Talking with a person who has identified their needs prior to entering into a mentoring relationship. The emphasis is on active listening, providing information, making suggestions, and establishing connections. This is a self-directed modus operandi whereby participants have choices. This approach can begin with a self-matching process and continue throughout the relationship using a committed timeline to determine how often and where individuals will meet, identify goals, and so forth.
Coaching: Listening to a person, identifying what they need, and helping them develop an action plan. The emphasis is on the person or client finding the solution, not instructing or leading them.A structured modus operandi is more frequently used whereby participants are working within a narrower perspective; their agenda is more specific, for a short period of time, and oriented toward certain results. Usually a coach is assigned to an employee within an organization.