I recently had the privilege of traveling for a week with a client who’s the CEO of a tech company. We were meeting with a major supplier for his company, as well as a potential investor, a potential new business partner and a prospective client who could mean a lot of business for the company.
I was facilitating conversations with all of these current and potential stakeholders. My role was to create a space for open and honest dialogue, and to help with negotiations, due diligence and relationship building.
And at the core of all of that was curiosity.
Curiosity is incredibly powerful. It’s a state of being that gets energy flowing between people. And it opens up all kinds of new awarenesses and understandings.
If you’ve ever spent time with a three-year-old, you understand the power of curiosity. Three-year-olds are constantly asking questions, and most of them begin with the word why. Why is the sky blue? Why do I have to brush my teeth? Why can’t I put chocolate syrup on my chicken (an excellent question!)?
You’ve probably noticed that three-year-olds don’t ask just one question, either. They keep asking and asking and drilling deeper. Often, they get to a point where we adults just can’t answer their questions anymore.
While this can definitely get frustrating, it’s also empowering. Three-year-olds come from a place where everything is fresh and new and interesting. And, sometimes, they bring us with them and we get to see things in a new way.
Curiosity can serve the same purpose in business. For example, when something is going wrong, we can approach it with an attitude of interrogation: “I’m going to demand answers and get to the bottom of this.” Or we can approach it with an attitude of curiosity: “I wonder what’s going on here.”
Can you feel which attitude is going to create a space for open and honest dialogue and new awarenesses and understandings ... and which attitude is not?
Our attitude very literally affects the energy of the people we speak with. [Click To Tweet] Our attitude can cause someone to withdraw and become quiet, defensive and guarded. Or our attitude can cause someone to blossom and become clear, inspired and creative.
Our personal power here comes from recognizing that we have a choice, and then consciously choosing our attitude. To tap into that personal power, we simply have to:
- Pause before we take action, and
- Choose how we are going to show up in that moment.
Sometimes I’ll choose to show up with compassion. Sometimes I’ll choose to show up with appreciation. And often, I’ll choose to show up with curiosity — and not just because of how it affects others. Yes, curiosity creates an expansive space that energizes other people. But there’s another big bonus to showing up at work with curiosity: Curiosity energizes me. [Click To Tweet]
While it’s true that I may feel lots of energy flowing through me while I’m interrogating someone, afterward, I’ll be left feeling drained and depleted, and so will the other person.
In contrast, being curious — for an hour or for a day — leaves me feeling satisfied, and often feeling eager, excited and energized.
Bottom line: Being curious is life-enhancing — and productive — both for me and for the people I’m interacting with. Plus, being curious is fun, and goodness knows we can all use more fun at work!
So, would you like to experience the power of curiosity at work today?
If you would, simply ask yourself: How many times can I choose to shift into a more curious space?
Then, if you feel yourself getting frustrated or upset in any way... or if you need to figure out something new... or if you’re involved in intense negotiations or building new relationships... pause for a moment and choose to show up with an attitude of curiosity. Odds are, you’ll feel better right away — and be more productive, too.