Curiosity may have killed the cat, but for everyone else it can do wonders. Curiosity is the strategy to uncover less-than-obvious information and discover overlooked insight.
The practical benefits of curiosity are both personal and professional.
Curiously, curiosity is often in short supply. We are too busy or forget to ask questions. We are too timid to ask. We think we have enough information. We rely on Google for what we need to know. The result: People don’t know what they don’t know.
The knowledge gap from a lack of curiosity may run deeper than you imagine. Curious people tend to attract other curious people. The uncurious are left with their own thoughts – and, of course, their Google results.
Being inquisitive is something we exhibit in childhood, but can leave behind as adults. We shouldn’t. Curiosity is an essential element of engagement, which is increasingly a critical component of effective communications.
A curious person engages people in empathetic conversations, pulling out information or perspectives that people may not otherwise be willing to share. Those nuggets can illuminate a toxic force in a workplace, a viewpoint on a controversial issue or an unmet expectation. Just as important, asking questions can forge a caring relationship.
Research has shown curiosity is a sign of brain health. Engaging with other people stimulates the brain, builds healthier relationships and can be an antidote for anxiety.
All that, plus curiosity can unlock valuable data points. Curiosity is like putting a turbocharger on your Google search engine.
To rediscover your childhood curiosity, stow away your “I already know the answer” attitude. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Ask and find out.
You can rekindle curiosity by intentionally getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new – from what you eat to a useful app. Look for new experiences. Talk to people who aren’t in your tribe. When you hear an unfamiliar word, look it up. If something on the news piques your interest, track down details. Dare to be creative. Let yourself be amazed.
In client situations, be politely relentless in asking questions. Don’t settle for superficial answers. Keep asking so you discover the reasons behind answers. Dig to understand the nuances surrounding a complex issue or to find a fresh angle to explain what’s going on.
If a client is uncomfortable with your professional curiosity, you should be curious about why. An issue manager or crisis counselor is not an errand boy. When you craft communications, your credibility is on the line as much as the client’s.
Curiosity will make your brain sharper, your relationships stronger and your career more rewarding. Quit worrying about the cat. Regain your enthusiasm.