“Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.” –Samuel Johnson
Think of the great interviewers of our times. Curiosity allows them to ask deep, probing questions that bring their audiences much sharper insights into what makes their guests tick – what motivates and inspires them, what shapes and influences them.
You can use the same techniques when engaging with colleagues. By showing respectful curiosity, you are indicating that you are interested in what they have to say. You demonstrate your investment in them. You make them feel valued and important.
Some examples of ways to show curiosity include:
- Asking ‘why’ questions. Our lives can be a series of undigested experiences, which is to say that while we may often repeat or relay stories of things that have happened in our lives, we don’t necessarily process the meaning of those experiences. By asking ‘why’ questions, you can help the person you are talking with achieve greater understanding themselves about why they made decisions or reached certain conclusions. And obviously, it gives you greater insight as well.
- Paying close attention. Oftentimes people reveal things that they are willing to talk about without going into much detail. Let’s face it – we’re never sure whether someone’s interest is genuine or not, and that can make some hesitant to elaborate on their point or opinion. If you are paying close attention to what they say, you will hear these opportunities to delve deeper, thus strengthening your relationship with the person talking.
- Looking for bridges. The more someone talk to you, the more you will be in a position to connect the dots, so to speak. This is where new ideas and possibilities get born, and get explored.
Curiosity is what allows us to look at alternatives and be fascinated by other possibilities. It keeps us moving forward, even while sometimes causing us to circle back around and re-examine options. It prevents us from becoming rigid and task-oriented. It allows us to see the ‘newness’ in every situation.
Every great public figure and decision-maker must use curiosity to guide them. It is an essential quality for exploring all possibilities and discovering ones that might have otherwise been overlooked. Using curiosity in your workplace can help you discover solutions for your team, division or company that have impact beyond what you might imagine.
On the path of your own leadership development, cultivate the natural curiosity that flows through you. Use it to drive you forward, to explore new paths, to deepen your relationships, and to guide you as you grow.