We are already very curious, especially within our comfort zones. If you are good with numbers and maths and “the economy” (says the artist who has spent her life convincing herself that she is a failure at these things), you are going to be looking for change in these areas, for the unexpected. In the free market, you know that nothing is stable or fixed. Things are only going to trend for so long. You know better than to assume that if you keep going without change or reassessment you will continue to get what you always got. You must look for change, and look for growth. It’s the same with people. You need to connect with people moment to moment to moment, not go through the motions of checking in with a colleague, thinking about where you need to be in fifteen minutes, nodding as though you’re listening. When you hold a performance review, you can’t expect that everything with your direct report is going to be the same as it’s always been. Be curious about the present, and allow it to surprise you. (You can hear how this can spice up your marriages as well, can’t you? )
An example of where curiosity comes into play for executive leaders is when they are coaching members of the team. Curiosity is critical in coaching because it is a fail-safe way of staying open, listening actively and keeping the conversation about the Coachee, rather than the Coach.
It looks like this:
- Asking good old-fashioned open questions — “what’s the situation right now?”; “what are your options right now?”
- Coming in with maximum information and minimum preconceived conclusions. (Holding your idea of how you think the conversation is going to go lightly).
- Looking for strengths, not weaknesses, in your team member, colleague, or coachee.