1) Genuine curiosity shows a willingness to learn from someone, and that prompts the other person to explain their perspective as fully as they can, because they can SENSE that if they do it well, they will be fully understood. We human beings work hard to be understood and will give it all we’ve got if we feel the chances are good.
2) Curiosity implies to the other person that their perspective is valued, even if it is not adopted. We appreciate being listened to, and it makes us grateful and engaged.
3) Curiosity shows the other person that our mind is not yet made up – that we are open to being influenced.
These three things create a bond between us. They make us feel safe to exchange ideas. That is the power of curiosity. So how do we show we are curious? There are lots of ways.
- We speak about our own idea tentatively, to show that we haven’t made up our mind yet.
- We listen to what the other person says. We fight the urge to compare their idea to ours, and just listen.
- We listen with empathy. Sometimes, if we try to understand the other party’s point of view, we can see their justification for their idea right away.
- We help them find better justification for their idea (while remaining authentic).
- We see if we can become open to favoring their idea.
- We ask questions that help us get just the amount of information we need to understand their perspective.
- We ask how their idea fits with long term goals.
- We ask if they feel their idea addresses the cause of the problem or the symptoms.
- We try to form a hybrid idea, a new idea that combines elements of different ideas into a new one.
- We ask ourselves “what would be harmed if we went with their idea”?
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