THE CURIOSITY CHALLENGE
Recently my Executive Coach ran me through a curiosity exercise. Every weekday at 5pm I had to text him on a scale of 1-10 what my curiosity level was for the day. I thought this would be an easy exercise. I love to learn, I have more books on my nightstand than my library would like. However this wasn’t curiosity of the mind, this was curiosity of the soul - how curious was I with others?
As a management consultant my days can vary from working alone to working at a client site. I could be leading discussions, conducting analysis, or simply in meetings taking notes. In my mind not every day could be a “curious day.” But that 5pm deadline weighed on me. I didn’t want to be a “0” every day, so I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to create opportunities for curiosity that didn’t previously exist.
I started setting a goal of two lunches per week with ANYONE I was interested in learning more about. I forced myself to make conversation and ask questions of my colleagues on breaks during all-day meetings, I even booked one-on-one time with my spouse and kids to listen not lecture. But the key goal: ask more questions than telling stories.
I love telling stories, reporting to people recent events in my life. However I became hyper-aware if I was speaking more than 1-2 minutes straight. Did I ask a question in the last 5 minutes? This exercise was a workout! Like any good workout it was challenging at first and I was terribly uncoordinated. But now my curiosity muscles are in shape and I’m eager to learn more about others than report on my own activities.
Do you catch yourself doing more talking than listening? Do you ask questions of others or just drone on. Do you know how that style of communication is interpreted by others? Contact me and see if curiosity fits in your natural style.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” –Dalai Lama