We have all heard the phrase “ Curiosity killed the cat”. Can you think of a time where you may have reminded someone of the phrase, perhaps because they were being too inquisitive and asking too many questions?
The definition of curiosity is the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness. Curiosity in its simplest form is the seeking out of information, it is closing a knowledge gap, learning or growing.
When curiosity is combined with positive intention it is a feeling that builds the genuine desire to learn more about a person, place or topic.
How curious are you?
When curiosity doesn’t come from a place of positive intention it can sound a lot more like judgement. By judgement I mean the sense that you have evaluated something and decided it’s good or bad or have a clear opinion about something before you ask the question, before you get truly curious.
As human beings we are constantly judging, whether it’s self judgement or judgement of others or our circumstance. As we grow up it becomes part of our auto-pilot program. One that we have to be intentional about breaking or turning off if we want to get curious, learn more and truly connect with others.
One way to stay curious instead of shifting into judgement is to change the questions you ask from ‘why’ questions to ‘how or what’ questions. A ‘why’ question can automatically get the other person on the defensive as a ‘why’ question often comes from a place of judgement, of questioning that person’s choices. When you ask a ‘how or what’ question you are opening up the conversation to understand what happened instead of assuming you know and asking the other person to defend their actions.
Imagine a world where our default was curiosity over judgement. Where we were curious about ourselves and others before we jumped to assumptions and judgement. Imagine how different your conversations could be with your children, your partner or your co-workers when you choose curiosity over judgement?
The next time your child does something that may not make sense to you or not be within the established family rules, instead of starting the conversation with “Why did you do that? Try seeking to understand, to closing your knowledge gap by asking “What was going on today?” or “How did you make the decision to do …?” This approach will take more time, it will also create a deeper connection between the two of you and you will very likely learn something about the other person.
So what do you think, was it curiosity that killed the cat?