I was minding my own business just grocery shopping the other day when I ran into someone I worked with in my last corporate job and hadn’t seen for close to a year. They asked me if I was on vacation and I told them that I pretty much do what I want to do. Then they asked “are you retired” – ouch! I said “No, I started my own business”. You would think, or maybe it’s just me, but I thought they would say “Really! What are you up too?” Nope, finished some small talk and walked away.
Rounded the corner with my shopping cart and ran into them again and I thought, okay, okay, now they are going to ask. Nope. I asked about where they went on their vacation, how work was, more small talk and we went our own ways again. Boggling my mind now!
Now, I thought, I need to get curious!
When it comes to other human beings, I have always been curious. Always wanting to go to a deeper level and understand them better. In my corporate life I know for a fact that my curiosity about others was an innate behaviour I had that I attribute to a lot of my success as a people leader and colleague. I loved building relationships beyond the project or task at hand. Taking the extra step to be curious about someone and learn something important to them created something magical, beyond the walls of the office.
In my training as a coach, I learned that my innate “skill” of curiosity was a requirement in order to serve my client. The ability to be curious about who or whatever was in front of me allowed my client to get curious about themselves or a particular situation
So why the word “curious”? Why not “nosey”? Curiosity is playful. A kitten is curious, a young child is curious. We don’t very often associate curiosity with an adult. This is where the power lies. When you allow yourself to be curious about something, all of a sudden judgement goes out the window. This opens up so many possibilities for the client. In the corporate setting using “I’m curious here…” is not going to put someone on the defense, in fact, it can be disarming.
So back to my grocery store story. I starting wondering, why don’t people get curious? The first thing that jumped to mind was maybe they just don’t care, ok, fair enough. Maybe they’re too self-absorbed, ok, want to talk more about themselves, we all know people like that! Or maybe they’re just too busy. Something that when asked, everyone apparently is.
So who cares anyway?
What are you missing out on by not being curious? Believe it or not, a lot. Your next relationship, a hot tip about a good restaurant or maybe even your next job! By simply asking questions you can open up the opportunity to gain so much.
Curiosity is also a great way to build a connection with someone else, which is one of our fundamental human needs.
Curiosity can also do some prevention work. It can prevent us from making assumptions about others and you know what assumptions can do! At its most basic level, curiosity simply shows interest in another human being. Let’s them feel noticed.
So next time you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while, what if you actually got curious about what they’re up to? You may be surprised what this opens up for you!