Excellence University Blog

Interpersonal Expertise Tip: Engaging in Shared Interests

by Dr. Brian Higley

January 31st, 2010

Being able to find common interests is often a big key to successful and satisfying relationships.  It seems simple enough, but often times we get lost in all of the things that make us different – and can easily lose sight of interests that can bind us together.  This Interpersonal Expertise Tip focuses on learning how to identify common interests within our important personal and professional relationships, and how to put those common interests to work to strengthen our bonds with others.

Engaging in shared interests begins with the identification of what all parties genuinely enjoy doing and is strengthened by the commitment to participate in some of these interests together from time to time.  Here are some ways people have been able to strengthen their relationships through their common interests:

  • Phase I: Make a list of 10-20 activities that can be truly enjoyed with others. The process of engaging in shared interests often begins with becoming aware of what we enjoy doing with others (at least part of the time).  Some of us enjoy reading clubs, others enjoy working out in groups and still others enjoy watching a television show or sporting event with people who enjoy watching as much as we do.  A key to doing this well is to make sure everyone feels comfortable speaking up if an activity is suggested that they do not truly enjoy (and that others are completely fine with certain people opting out of certain activities).  It is better to leave people alone than to force them to engage in an activity that is not a genuine shared interest.
  • Phase II: Look over everyone’s lists and come up with a final “shared interests” list. If all parties come up with 10-20 activities, the odds are that at least 1-2 activities will be close to what at least a few others enjoy.  It can often be good to have the final list include as many people as possible so few people feel left out.  If there are a few left out of the final list, we can commit to develop a few more ideas for activities or see if at least 1-2 others in the group have a common interest with those not yet represented by the final list.
  • Phase III: Make specific plans to engage in a shared interest activity at a frequency that all parties are happy with. Once a list is finalized, it can be very helpful to agree to engage in the first activity at a specific date and time.  Specific dates make it more likely that we will actually follow through with our plans.   It can also be important to be sensitive to how often people truly want to engage in an activity and respect all parties’ desires.  For example, some may want to get together every Sunday for football and others may want to only join the rest of the group during “big games.”  It is critical that no one is made to feel guilty about how often they really want to join the group for common interests; it’s best when people feel truly free to join others or choose to sit an activity out from time to time.

NOTE TO THOSE USING THE MISSION FULFILLMENT SYSTEM: You can move toward Increased Interpersonal Expertise by adding a new Objective to your system using the “Add New Item” link (for example, “Engage in more shared interests with others who I value).  You can then develop a SMART Goal related to that new Objective by using the “Add Subitem” link to the far right of the new Objective (for example, “Show my list of common interest activities to John, Pam and Judith and ask them to work with me on a final list”).

FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT ON THE MISSION FULFILLMENT SYSTEM: Click here to for more information and click here to sign up.

FINAL NOTE: If you were linked to this article by a video or email, please return to that link and proceed with any other instructions that you deem helpful.  For more Execution Excellence and Interpersonal Expertise tips and tools visit our site at: www.excellenceuniversity.net

Article Filed under: 2. Interpersonal Expertise Tips

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