Curiosity Helped This Cat

One of Awesome’s values is Apply Curiosity. Being curious is a powerful antidote to those times that you are frustrated or just don’t feel like being an understanding, connected leader. Here’s how to get into a curious mindset -- and it’s easier than you might think.

There are times when I’m sure I am right, when I’m sure the other person is wrong, when I’m angry or frustrated, or when I just don’t care. You may have felt like this at some point too. Those are the times that curiosity is the most valuable.

Here are some of the reasons curiosity helps most when it feels most wrong:

  • Being curious helps quiet my own mind.  All those racing thoughts and feelings get replaced with a single thread of trying to understand, and I find that both energizing and calming at the same time.
  • Being curious helps me understand the other person, which builds empathy and reinforces my emotional intelligence, both of which are important for leaders.  
  • Being curious creates a warm feeling for the other person, which we’ve known for a long time. Dale Carnegie wrote about it in 1936 with How to Win Friends and Influence People. And interestingly, it also creates that warm feeling in me, even when it wasn’t there to start with.

But it’s easier said than done.  So HOW do you do it, even when you don’t really want to?  There are two main aspects - involving both mindset, and skillset. I’m going to discuss mindset today, and skillset next time.

Setting a Mindset for Curiosity

Start by reminding yourself that curiosity is a decision.  I used to wait around for curiosity to magically appear.  And with some people in certain situations, it did.  But that didn’t help me in tough situations when I needed it most. Curiosity isn’t magic, but it can be a choice.  Before entering a situation where you want to be curious, you can say out loud to yourself, “I’m choosing curiosity right now.”

This works even when you don’t know the other person, don’t feel like talking to them, or simply don’t care about them. It also works when you’re stuck in your own emotions or judgements.

Listening Matters More Than Talking

It’s impossible to be curious without listening carefully.  Those activities go hand in hand. Being “uncurious” -- which is either being judgemental or dismissive -- means you don’t need to listen.  So choosing curiosity means I need to remember to listen more than talk.  And that’s tricky because it means reminding myself yet again that I don’t have all the answers -- despite that little voice in my head that thinks I do.

Setting your mindset towards curiosity is helpful, all by itself.  Try it the next time you find yourself disengaged or judgemental and tell us what your experience was!

The good news is that you can also build a skillset for curiosity, and that’ll be my next post.  Stay tuned!

Be Awesome,

Scott is one of the instructors for our Getting Focused for Entrepreneurs course and is a founder of The Awesome Institute.

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