How much of your inner child’s curiosity have you lost? Have you ever been shot with one of those question machine guns that only kids can operate? Or have you ever been the shooter?
In a world where the only constant we can count on is Change, adaptability is one of the most desirable skills and curiosity is one of our best tricks to get it.
Curiosity is the feeling of being interested in knowing more about the people and things around them. Curiosity arises when there is a gap between what we know and what we need or want to know. Curiosity is a fundamental human motivation that influences learning, the acquisition of knowledge, and life fulfilment. (Kashdan, 2018)
Furthermore, we live in a time where satisfying our curiosity is easier than ever, thanks to the plethora of information available to us for free and without even leaving our sofa.
In addition, when it comes to curiosity, there are no limits. You can be inquisitive about anything, and there will always be something new to learn about, even if you spend the majority of your time asking questions.
But if the feeling of excitement that you get from learning something new is not enough (maybe this is just us), being curious has a lot more benefits. These are some of the main ones:
It can help you build deeper relationships, and build trust with others
Would you like to spend your time with someone who just talks about themselves? Or would you rather spend that time with someone who is curious and wants to learn more about you?
According to HBR, “when we demonstrate curiosity about others by asking questions, people like us more and view us as more competent, and the heightened trust makes our relationships more interesting and intimate.”
This is not a surprising statement; we all know that the best way to build a relationship with someone is to spend time with them and have meaningful conversations. This, in turn, will increase trust. (Check out our blog post about the power of questions and how to use them to empower others)
It helps your confidence, and therefore your success
Imagine you’re attending a meeting with a potential new important client. Would you spend some time before the meeting researching the company, the person you’ll be meeting with, and even the industry so that you can at least have a fluent conversation?
Curiosity is the initial step toward taking intentional action to learn more about our environment, topics we are interested in, or the people we interact with.
Unless we are curious, all we would do is the bare minimum, which would never lead to any kind of success.
Curiosity helps increase collaboration and teamwork
Curiosity encourages us to have an interest in other people’s ideas, provides us with different perspectives and allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. All of which has a big impact on how effectively people work together.
Curiosity, according to research, aids teams in achieving greater results.
It can help us be more empathetic, and increase our emotional intelligence
Curiosity can aid in the development of empathy and emotional intelligence in the same way that it aids in the development of collaboration and teamwork.
Curiosity requires an open mind to thrive, and when we are willing to listen to others, comprehend their viewpoints, and learn more about them, we immediately increase our empathy and emotional intelligence.
It’s good for our brains and enhances our memory
Because our brains function like muscles, we must keep them in shape if we want them to be healthy. Curiosity is to the brain what physical activity is to the body.
Being curious and taking time to exercise our minds has a positive influence on our brains in the same way as investing time to exercise, eat healthier, and develop positive habits has a favourable impact on our bodies.
Consider this: how much do you recall from your least favourite topic in high school, college, or university? Now consider one of your favourite topics. Curiosity draws our attention, and the more we pay attention to something, the easier it is to learn and remember.
According to research about the state of curiosity by the University of California, “students who took part in the study were better at remembering answers to trivia questions when they were curious, but their memories also improved for unrelated information they were shown at the same time.”
It will make you happier
Curiosity has been connected to the release of dopamine, our brain’s reward molecule, according to research.
When something piques our interest, our brains enter the “curiosity state,” which makes us feel uncomfortable because we lack particular knowledge. As a result, the parts of our brains responsible for learning and memory kick in and begin to operate, and we begin to acquire new information. Our brains release dopamine at this point, making us feel better and reinforcing our exploratory behaviour.
It helps creativity and innovation
Having a broad understanding of several subject areas allows us to broaden our perspective on problems, which in turn helps us come up with more innovative solutions.
3M, for example, thanks to the assistance of a theatrical-makeup professional, developed a revolutionary concept for reducing infections linked with surgery.
How can we stay curious?
Hopefully, by this point, you’re excited about curiosity and all of the wonderful benefits it will bring you. But you’re probably also thinking that you’re already overworked and won’t be able to find the time to learn anything new or spend hours reading and researching all of your interests.
Curiosity, fortunately, is not difficult to cultivate. We’ve compiled a list of pointers that should help you and the people around you take your curiosity to the next level:
Keep asking questions
Go back to being the kid who couldn’t stop asking why. Don’t just accept what people say as true or false; instead, ask some questions and make your own decisions. As someone on our team said:
“Knowledge for me is not about finding answers, but rather about asking better questions.”
Within your team. Before giving an answer, ask a question. This way we allow people to come up with their own ideas.
Keep an open mind
This is quite obvious because if you won’t keep an open mind, it really doesn’t matter how many questions you ask. To keep an open mind, focus on listening mindfully rather than thinking about your response as soon as you heard something you don’t agree with. (Check out our article about active listening)
Within your team. Allow people to speak up, find people with different opinions, and ways of thinking, so you can have a diversity of thought.
Read, read, and read some more
Reading doesn’t have to mean finishing one book per week; it might mean reading anything that interests you. Read articles (we publish one a month), books (fiction or non-fiction), the newspaper, the news, whatever you want to read as long as you read.
Did you know that reading fiction beneficially impact our decision-making abilities? Or that reading can make us more creative, imaginative, and compassionate people?
Within your team. Promote book exchanges, or gift people with a discount on books, journals, etc…
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You can also follow the hashtag #OptimistsChat on social media to discover new recommendations for books, podcasts, and more.
Seek new experiences and new people
Being curious is looking for the new…new experiences, new people, new answers, new knowledge. Find activities, short courses, masterclasses where you can learn something new.
Make a commitment to try something new once a month at the very least. It doesn’t have to be jumping out of a plane to be new; it can be as simple as talking to someone you’ve never spoken to before.
Within your team. Promote new activities within your team, celebrate some special days, or allow some time for people to do something different. (Creating memorable experiences is one of our strengths, so if you don’t want to spend time thinking about it, get in touch with us and find out how we can help you)
Run away from your comfort zone
If you feel completely comfortable with all you do, it’s time to move one. To spark curiosity, there must be a gap in our knowledge that triggers that uncomfortable feeling in our brains. So if you are completely at ease, there won’t be curiosity.
Keep learning, evolving, taking new responsibilities, talking to new people, anything that makes you feel uncomfortable enough to keep your curiosity alive.
Within your team. Create programmes for learning and development (we can help you here, get in touch with us). Mix people together so they can use their respective knowledge and perspectives to find out more creative or innovative solutions.
Don’t condemn yourself to a static role
When we talk about static roles, we’re talking about jobs where there’s nothing new beyond the introductory period. Similar to the previous example, there are many positions where you already know everything there is to know about the work by the time the trial period ends, and there is no place for new knowledge to be obtained.
Keep running if you find yourself in this situation! We work far too many hours to waste them on a job that provides no positive stimulation.
Within your team. You should not offer a static position to anyone else if you don’t want it. As a result, ensure that everyone on your team continues to grow and evolve within their jobs, that there are opportunities for growth, and that you never accept laziness when it comes to curiosity.
Hire curious people
Incorporate some questions or activities into your hiring process to find employees who are inherently curious. For example, Google uses questions such as “Have you ever found yourself unable to stop learning something you’ve never encountered before? Why? What kept you persistent?” in their interviews.
The Optimist View…
With all the new experiences, knowledge and people you will gain thanks to being curious, your adaptability will increase to the roof, no doubt.
As always, we strive to lead by example, encouraging and harnessing our curiosity on a daily basis within our team.
Because our team is small, some things are obviously easier. However, big or small there is no excuse for leaders not to encourage and nurture curiosity.
The following are some of the things we do as a team:
- We organise weekly “creative” meetings to share ideas.
- We have a “be more curious” channel, and have created the #OptimistsChat to recommend books, podcast, etc.
- We are continually signing up for new courses, masterclasses, studies, or webinars.
- We never stop reading. This is actually quite funny because for a person in our team books are almost an obsession. Every time she goes to the office, she ends up buying at least 1 or 2 books.
- We all participate in every area of development, so we can leverage our diverse skills and knowledge to foster innovation and creativity.
If you need help developing learning and development programmes or would like to expose your team to new experiences, get in touch with us today and find out how we can help you.