Curious – willing to not know and eager to explore.
Over the last 90 days, curious is exactly what I’ve tried to be. And in some situations, I’ve failed. A leadership development group I’m in challenged us to spend 90 days practicing this trait, and it forced me to admit that I’m not always curious. Rarely do I have all the information about a person or situation. But, over time, I discovered that exploring the situation and trying to understand it from a different point of view pays off. A curious mindset results in personal growth and often leads to better results for the team.
When things don’t happen the way we expect, we make assumptions. We tell ourselves stories. We judge the people involved. Often, those assumptions and stories are negative. What if we chose instead to practice curiosity when things don’t play out as we anticipated?
Curiosity is the antidote to assumptions. It forces us to ask questions and allows us to understand different perspectives. Rather than judging, we begin to see how others might view the world differently than we do. The more curious we are, the more we replace our assumptions with helpful information.
I’ve tried to practice curiosity by using the phrase “tell me more.” When I don’t understand a situation or a person’s perspective, this simple phrase helps me stop and explore. It forces me to slow down and listen to where the other person is coming from. I have seen this phrase put others in a group at ease and open the dialogue for more questions and perspectives to be shared. Rather than taking a client request at face value, I’ve learned to dig into what they’re really asking for. I have gained an appreciation for the views of someone who’s had different life experiences.
I’ve also noticed that it is easier for me to be curious with some groups more than others. When I am responsible as the group leader, I sometimes feel like I need to have all the answers. I tend to jump in, offer suggestions, and try to solve the problem too quickly. I forget the step of being curious. When I use “tell me more,” it shows others that they are valuable and that their ideas are important. The team often uncovers other potential solutions, and we have the opportunity to get to know each other at a deeper level. I, along with the people around me, grow and develop, and my own point of view is expanded. In the end, we have better results and better relationships.
In today’s polarized society, we are quick to make assumptions and judge people who have different points of view. If we take time to be curious and say, “tell me more,” we may ultimately find better solutions, build better relationships, and grow along the way.
Catherine Bloom, Chief Marketing Officer
This blog was originally published in the Current Connections Winter 2022 issue.