So, what exactly does it mean to be unusually interested in others? Well, first, it obviously goes beyond cursory or superficial curiosity, though curiosity is a key component—in fact, it starts there. We all have the compulsion to peer into what another person is doing, how they are living, what they think. We are, after all, a society of voyeurs who have made Reality TV a perennial goldmine for networks. But, being interested, even more, unusually interested, requires more than a desire to observe; it means digging deeper into whatever has captured your attention.
In Practice I, we ask you to take your natural inclination toward interest in another human being and elevate it to the level where you connect, engage, and explore. We explain in the book The Three Practices . . . for Crossing the Difference Divide that this practice involves paying attention, asking the second question, out-listening people, and understanding the value of small talk. These principles are steps that get you into the practice of being unusually interested in others and they are the tools that help you stay there.
Being unusually interested requires effort, but not a lot. It comes down to hitting “Pause” on your wants and needs long enough to wonder about the wants and needs of someone else, and then asking about them. And why do we want to do that? Well, when it comes to crossing the difference divide, being able to see another’s differences as a matter for curiosity, rather than disdain or fear, takes you a long way toward participating in the project of us instead of the project of them.
The Three Practices are not progressive—they are inter-related—but, if you are just beginning to engage with difference, this Practice is a great way to get your feet wet. Once we have laid the foundation of understanding around each of the Practices and the Three Practice Group, we will use current events and national/international days of significance to illustrate how these Practices look in action. Check in with us each week to dig deeper.