Curiosity is the key to establish and deepen connection. It removes barriers and creates space for connection.
Curiosity is what gives energy and intrigue to any conversation. It is your access to gain insight into whom the other person is. It is key to getting them to share their stories, their interests, their perspective and their experiences and to talk about their day. Although we have more in common with others which always gives us an easy opportunity to engage others it is our curiosity about our differences that creates a deeper connection.
When you are curious you are focused outside of yourself and on others. You are less concerned about yourself and more concerned about discovering something about the other person.
It’s a source of courage to connect and learn about others.
When you are curious, ask the right questions and listen without judgement people enthusiastically disclose more and share more. When you listen ready to judge you create a barrier to connection. Curious people listen without assumptions, without expectations, with interest and with intention to learn.
Curiosity gives you power
Curiosity is that thing that bonds people, that builds bridges, that opens others to share and helps to navigate conflict. A conversation with a curious person leaves one feeling seen, valued, accepted and validated – what we all want. You will be thought of as the kindest, most interesting person, because you have given the other person a platform to share their stories, perspective, opinion, interests and experiences, and you listened.
Where curiosity was lost
For many of us negative experiences and influences early in life crushed our curiosity and have caused us to choose fear thoughts and behaviors. Experience lacking unconditional acceptance, compassion, helpfulness and generosity – behaviors associated with love.
The curiosity of a 2 year old is considered an irritant. Either asking why questions, trying to figure out how something works and breaking it, or exploring and getting into trouble. The grade school student who is fascinated by a topic and asks probing questions to gain more insight is cut short to save time. Or the student who is more concerned with getting the answer correct as instructed rather than questioning the validity of information, ideas and theories presented.
It feels better to know the answers, know how to behave and to avoid being humiliated, rejected or hurt.
But, you were born curious and no matter how many times your curiosity has been trampled it is still in you.
You responsibility to yourself and your relationships is to detox your old thoughts, stories and negative influences and create space to connect with others a lot more easily and courageously.
Curiosity is the tool of courageous connection and conversation
I am truly fascinated by people who work in a different industry than I do, who have lived in different cultures, have had different experiences and who have unique interests. Because I am genuinely interested it is easy for me to approach people I don’t know and engage them in conversation about what excites them. I have learned a lot through being curious and made connection with so many. It has become an art, which I teach in The Art of Connection and below is an example.
Making a connection with very little knowledge
Curiosity expands your knowledge. Even if you know a little about a lot you increase your ability to connect.
To learn about new technology on the horizon I watch Click on BBC. New and future technologies are presented in engaging story form and intended to be not only informative, but also entertaining and keep viewers current and ahead of the curve. I watched an episode about placing multiple smart phones placed in strategic locations to create a 3D movie (a very basic explanation). It happened that a few weeks later I sat next to a film maker during an awards dinner. I was very curious about his extensive career and the evolution of how he does his work. Naturally I asked a few questions and he talked for most of the dinner about many things including how the person behind the camera must have a creative eye, how the industry is diverse and showcases personal interests, and how the industry and technology have developed over the years at which time I was able to drop in my limited knowledge and fascination about 3D filming using smart phones. He was impressed with my [limited] knowledge and very enthusiastic to share many things about himself. He was so happy to talk about his work and his career and life journey and I was fascinated by it all.
He was more than pleased to introduce me to his friend, an investor and venture capitalist, who was also sitting at the table and equally as fascinating and is now a valued mentor to my son.
How to have a curiosity based conversation
Being by being interested in seeing how they see the world (a situation, a topic, an experience, an organization) differently than you do. Be open to expand your perspective. You may see the same situation from different perspectives. And neither is wrong, just different due to different experiences, objectives and interests. Have a beginner’s mind which has no preconceived opinion and listen to learn. Dispense with rules of engagement. They may not know yours and it would be a shame to miss new insight because of rules.
Ask about their opinion.
Ask why they made the choice they made.
Ask “tell me more” questions. You want to learn the secrets about who they are.
You want to learn:
Who they are, who they are becoming and how you can support them.
Why they do what they do. How they make decisions.
How they spend their time and what is important to them.
How they contribute to their community and how you can help them.
Create space for connection
So many of us are trapped in our way of thinking, in our way of engaging and how we choose to relate to people. We are trapped by our expectations, comfortable seeing the world our way. But making genuine connection requires us to be non-judgmental and open to differences. If not we experience conflict, block connection with established barriers and miss new insight. Be curious and interested in seeing the world from their perspective. If they want to build rapport and establish a connection they will be curious about you too.