One Potent Step That Will Expand Your Likability And Success Today

Several years ago, I was out with my children doing errands, and we stopped at the AT&T store. I was getting something for my phone, and I began talking with the young man behind the counter about this life. He ended up sharing a good deal about his (often painful) childhood, his upbringing, education, and important life lessons he’d learned.  And he shared his ultimate dreams for his life and career – what he hoped he would build and create. I found the conversation so interesting, as I always do when I speak in a deeper way with people I meet.

Both my kids have remarked how strangers always ending up telling me their “life story.” They’ve wondered at it, and my son said, “Why do people feel so comfortable telling you all that private stuff?”

I thought I knew the answer then (which was about my work and training as a therapist and coach and my love of connecting, etc.), but I know now that there is something else at the heart of it. I believe the real answer comes down to one key thing – curiosity. I’m not just going through the motions – I’m very curious about what lights people up, what drives them forward, and their honest sharing always gets me thinking about my life as well. Even when I was a teen, my father, who was a scientist, said, “Kathy, you’re so driven to figure out why people do what they do.”

In these past years as a career and executive coach, I’ve witnessed firsthand what happens when people shift out of focusing intently and exclusively on themselves and on what they need and want, and start listening more to others, engaging in a more curious, open way. When they do that, they find it becomes a transformative experience, often for both parties.

Listening and engaging with more true curiosity – without agenda or a desire to change people – brings you closer to others, allows you to be less defensive, and helps you find more meaning in life and work. And all of that expands your likability and creates a greater likelihood that others will trust and listen to you.

In a fascinating interview I conducted several years ago with the bestselling author and success guru Brendan Burchard, he said something I’ll never forget. He shared that everyone he meets has an important message from the universe for him.


Here’s what he said:

“Many people in the expert industry just insulate – that’s the biggest danger in the expert space.  Thousands of top “guru’s” in personal development arena push other people or whole segments of the industry away, and think about others’ work, ‘Wow, this is total junk.’ But in the world’s history, never once has discrimination led to success.  When you say, “All coaches are less skilled than me,” for instance – you’re discriminating against a huge swath of people you don’t know, and that won’t serve you.

This comes from the ego within us. Our brain is self-protective assumes everyone else is an idiot. We believe our perspective is right. My life truly changed and my business took off to the million dollar level when I realized that every person I meet is someone who carries an important message from the universe for me. I don’t know what that message is but I will honor them as a person and honor their voice even if I don’t think it may be as intelligently informed as mine.”

How can we come more curious, without agenda or projecting our own judgments and values on others? How do we engage in a more compassionate, authentic and meaningful way, and learn from others and become more likable, engaging and successful in the process?


Below are five strategies for tapping into more curiosity about others, and elevating your connection and likability:

Stop moving so fast  slow down

Real listening and fostering a curiosity about life and others takes the strength and commitment to stop running – to slow down, look into someone’s eyes, and let your heart open. If you want to connect with others you meet, you can’t do that by mowing them down in the grocery aisle or cutting them off in the parking lot so you can get to where you’re going. We simply cannot engage with others meaningfully when we’re racing around like chickens with our heads cut off , just trying to “get it done.”

If you’re a Striver (one of the 6 Dominant Action styles I’ve identified that characterize how people get to their goals), you might be hyper-focused on just accomplishing goals without attending to the process of your goal achievement. And that “just get it done” approach often leaves body parts in your wake and prevents you from connecting in beneficial ways with information and people who can support you to grow.


Realize that everyone you meet has a message that you’re meant to hear

As Brendon Burchard mentioned, many of us feel like “experts” and that no one or nothing can teach us or help us with our life goals. Nothing is farther from the truth. It’s openhearted, open-minded engagement and curiosity with the world and others that will be the very thing that will catapult you father than you could ever go on your own.


 Appreciate your differences with others but also our sameness

We can’t connect well with others if we’re only wanting to be with clones of ourselves. We need to embrace difference and diversity to help teach us who we really are and show us who we want to be. Instead of only hiring, promoting or engaging with people who are just like you, open your sphere wider and let in (and respect) people who are very different from you. You’ll begin to see how these differences between us make us all better, stronger and richer.


Understand that just listening with an open heart is helping others and yourself

Listening with curiosity and an open heart changes the listener and the sharer all at once. Your curiosity and compassion about what they’re going through and how they see the world helps them feel heard and validated, and that’s a healing experience. And it supports you to see your own world differently, facilitating your understanding that while we’re all very unique in our challenges and capabilities, we’re also the same in many universal ways. That knowledge makes you more successful in life and work, and more able to connect with anyone you meet – from the President of your company to the homeless man on your block.


Use what you hear as a way to fuel even more growth and curiosity

Finally, when you become more curious, you’ll begin to open to new ideas, innovations and approaches that were inaccessible to you before. You’ll start seeing important “messages” and opportunities in everything around you. And this new information will open exciting new pathways for you to experience more growth, happiness and reward.



 To expand your curiosity, success and fulfillment, work with Kathy Caprino in her career and executive coaching programs, and tune into her podcast Finding Brave.


Originally published at Forbes

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