April 19, 2021

Building your curiosity muscle

Building your curiosity muscle

In my early 20s, I was known for asking people lots of probing questions, almost like an interrogation. My sister lived with one of my best friends, and their house was an endless stream of people as we lived out those heady times of frivolity and carelessness. Each new arrival was fair game. My dream job at the time was to be a talk show host, so I turned that house into my TV set.

You won’t be surprised to hear then, that I find asking good questions an art form. Deeply listening to their answers and following up with more great questions is a masterpiece. Practicing that with people you disagree with is a game-changer.

That’s because curiosity is the antidote to righteousness. When we ask questions from a place of wonder, our counterparts feel valued and heard, and not judged. Trust grows and new ways to solve problems are discovered. Especially when you turn down the interrogation style as I’ve since learned.

In our modern-day workplaces, curiosity can so easily get trampled by our over-committed schedules. If that sounds like you, have a read of this HBR article about what to do about it. And think about these questions:

  • What are the ways my team is curious? How does it drive more creative solutions?
  • Where could you be more curious? What benefit would that bring?
  • What are the barriers to curiosity? How can you overcome them?

If you’re a people leader, the best way to encourage curiosity is to model it. What good questions have you asked today?

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