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Manliness Trait: Try To Be Interesting, But ALWAYS Be Interested

27 June 2008 7 Comments

FDR Listening

When I was compiling the list of Manliness Traits, this one not only had to be included, it had to be right near the top. I forgot exactly where I heard this saying, so I searched online to see if I could credit the right person, but could not find anything. However, this has been a cornerstone in my life for a long time.

The essence of this Trait lies in the one facet men have had trouble mastering throughout all of time: listening. Most men tend to be good storytellers. We have the innate ability to be interesting (at least we want to be) and, more importantly, we tend to enjoy it. Listening, on the other hand, has always been a challenge for us.

Try To Be Interesting, But ALWAYS Be Interested

Why does it matter?

Ever wonder why some of us get that job promotion, the amazing girlfriend/wife, the lowest round of golf, or the admiration of others? They listen. In order for us to learn and become better at anything we are doing, we must listen and learn. If you have a genuine interest in what is being explained to you, you will absorb it like a sponge, internalize it and then use it to your advantage as you implement it later.

Also, being interested, and showing it, gives you instant respect in the minds of the person delivering the message. You show them the ultimate respect by taking an interest in what they are saying. If it wasn’t important to them, they probably wouldn’t be saying it. This goes for women, other men, and even your children. And yes, children know when you are paying attention or not.

Why isn’t being INTERESTING enough?

Some may say it can be attributed to the general lack of patience (a strong manly virtue). Others may say it is our need, as humans, to be accepted and loved. We feel if we are interesting to other people, they will look favorably towards us. People will view our stories and our knowledge as valuable. We want folks to feel like they are lucky to be in the same room with us. To this end, being interesting is the most sured way to garner such feelings.

This is true. However, for the same reason we want to be accepted, loved and admired, the people on the other side want those exact same things. When you are always trying to be interested to other people, this will be viewed as you “taking” as opposed to “giving” something. Yes, it seems opposite, but nevertheless true.

If you are always trying to steal the spotlight, show people your incredible knowledge, or simply dominating this delicate balance of give and take, you will not endear people to you. You will not attract them deeper into your life. And subsequently, it makes it much more difficult to be a leader and get what you want in the long-term.

Why is being INTERESTED the key to success?

Men of all ages and experience understand the importance of listening. This is how children learn so quickly. This is how men stay in the good graces of their wives. This is how we become better men. However, many men actually feel they are being weak when give control of the conversation and message over to someone else. It is difficult to “let go” and allow the other person to take the lead in being interesting.

Showing genuine interest in what others have to say or show you not only is displaying an inner strength very few men possess, it shows others your complete comfort level with who you are as a man. You know that you are in charge of your own thoughts. Your willingness to relate with others through sharing and caring for their experiences in the moment actually gives you COMPLETE control over that interaction. There is nothing that can be attacked or disputed. If SunTzu (ancient warlord credited with creating the premise of The Art Of War) were alive today, he would be very proud of this saying.

The other very important reason this Manliness Trait is so important is that to become better men, we must learn from the true, decent, brave, intelligent gentlemen that have proceeded. The only way to do this is to listen and observe their actions and lessons. To soak up all that wonderful knowledge is a cornerstone to the Return To Manliness.

In summary, I believe we can become better men immediately through this one key trait. Other Manliness Traits may take time to master and have that profound impact on who we are trying to become. It doesn’t matter if we are trying to improve our marriage, pick up women; get that job promotion; land that important deal; or simply want to become better men, if we want to succeed, we must learn to be genuinely interested in that person or group of people you are interacting. We all will have our moments to be interesting, but to be interested gives you access to worlds you never knew existed. Worlds of much deeper relationships, much deeper knowledge, and an inner strength that exudes manliness.


  • The Manival #10: Discussion and Links on Men's Issues and Interests | The Art of Manliness said:

    […] to Manliness presents Manliness Trait: Try To Be Interesting, But ALWAYS Be Interested. Dale Carnegie said the best way to be charming is be interested in other people. Put the focus on […]

  • karmazon said:

    Did you just say that lack of patience is manly?

  • Kevin said:

    Bad writing on my part. Patience is a VERY strong manly virtue. The comment “general lack of patience” was used to help drive the point that simply being interesting to others is not enough. People have short attention spans and often being interesting lasts much shorter than we want to admit to ourselves…

  • Ray said:

    Karmazon..the writer is saying that “patience” is a manly virture not a lack of, ( though many men and some women feel as if any negative trait in a man is “manly”.

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  • A Few Thoughts on Job Interviews and Bow Ties | What they didn't teach in law school said:

    […] Which leads to my second observation: interviewees should try to be interesting and also interested, too. If you are in an interview, you are on paper at least […]

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