The article in the September/October 2018 edition of The Harvard Business Review entitled “The Business Case for Curiosity” by Francesca Gino, revealed a wide range of benefits on the topic of curiosity for organizations, leaders, and employees. Gino is a behavioral scientist who is part of the Mind, Brain, Behavior Initiative at Harvard Business School. I have listed below some of her key points:
- When curiosity is triggered, fewer decision-making errors are made as we are less likely to succumb to confirmation bias (looking for information that supports our beliefs, rather than for evidence suggesting we are wrong). Curiosity leads us to generate alternatives.
- When we are curious, we view tough situations more creatively. That leads to more innovation and positive changes, with less defensiveness and aggressive reactions to frustrations and provocations.
- Curiosity reduces group conflict by encouraging members of a group to put themselves in one another’s shoes, and take an interest in one another’s ideas rather than focus only on their own perspective.
- Groups where curiosity is encouraged perform better because they share information more openly and listen more carefully.
Why does this matter, and how does it relate to personal relationships in couples and families?
Curiosity improves engagement and cooperation. Being curious helps people make better choices, because they tend to keep an open mind and listen more. Questions come from a place of genuine interest and acceptance, rather than criticism and judgement.
Think of the following scenario:
Two people are having a disagreement. Both feel very strongly about their position.
Instead of listening to each other, the two are more concerned about making their point to the other. Instead of hearing the other person, each are busy coming up with their own rebuttal.
Something that started out to be a discussion has turned into an argument with entrenched sides – harsh words, hurt feelings, and the two people heading for separate corners.
Consider the alternative: Use of Curiosity
When using curiosity, you want to get into the other person’s head.
Know what they are thinking in microscopic detail.
Understand why they think that way.
Where does it come from?
Why is their perspective so important to them?
Model questioning with coming from a place of wanting to know first how the other person feels. Ask questions and genuinely listen to the responses. Ask from a point of clarification rather than the need to justify your own point of view.
When we demonstrate curiosity about others’ views by asking questions, people tend to like us more and view us as more competent. Asking questions promotes more meaningful connections and more creative outcomes. This can lead to heightened trust which makes our relationships more interesting and intimate, and save us from the destructive dynamic that often occurs in our times of misunderstanding.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
~ Albert Einstein