Videos, Blogs, & Podcasts by Jacinta

Cultivating Curiosity

Think about a professional situation in which you felt strongly about how things should go and your colleague or client thought things should go in the opposite direction.  “Should” is the operative word, here. Imagine putting your “should” out there – loud and proud! 

Next – imagine trying to convince the person who opposes you to go in your direction.  What will you do? Try to convince or persuade? Argue your point or use clever manipulation?  Tug of war, anyone?

I don’t know about you but I have never won an argument – not for real. Not without someone losing.  Not in a way that allowed me to understand the other point of view, or where I felt my point of view was understood. Arguing and persuasion doesn’t work that way. Yet many of us persist in using this method of communication when we meet opposing views about something we care deeply about.

Now imagine if, in the face of strong opposition, you became curious rather than persuasive or argumentative. How might curious questions impact your opponent?  How might curiosity help improve dialogue?

If your goal is to move from debate and argument, to dialogue and understanding, then try simple questions or open invitations like:

  • What’s important to you about ________

  • Can you help me understand?  I want to know more about how you see this.

  • I’m so curious about how we can see things so differently. Tell me more. 

In conflict, if your “opponent” feels authentic curiosity from you, it is "dis-arming".  When we disarm, we can think more clearly, connect to our emotions and hear other's perspectives. It is hard to listen when we are defending.  

Try it.  Shift from judgment to curiosity.  Experiment with how it impacts you and the people around you.