We are loving all the attention Brian Grazer has been getting about the importance of curious conversations and the power of curiosity, especially at a time when people feel engaging conversations are a luxury rather than a need! We are all born with the skills to be curious in conversations and sometime we just need to relearn what we already know.
Here are 3 steps to having curious conversations in all aspects of your life:
- Be present to actively listen: It is impossible to be curious in a conversation if you aren’t present, and if you aren’t present then you aren’t listening. It is really that simple. This means giving the speaker your full attention and stopping whatever you are doing to focus on listening to the speaker. When we quickly ‘check in’ to do something (smart device, to-do list etc) we check out of listening the speaker. Don’t believe us, try having a conversation while reading an email and see how much you actually hear. This may sound like a no brainer, however, in our overscheduled, overwhelming lives it can be much easier said than done. When we are present in a conversation to actively listen we can ABSORB all of what is being said, which is essential if you are going to be curious in conversations. Learn more about how to be present to ABSORB here
- Choose how to listen: Curious conversations include understanding the perspectives of others, being respectful of their thoughts and ideas, which requires us to intentionally choose how we listen to them in order to learn. When we are fully present in the moment, ABSORBing what is being said to us, all of a sudden several listening choices become available to us. Rather than simply two listening choices—i.e., whether to listen or not—we believe we actually have five listening choices in any given conversation, and how we choose to listen in such conversation will ultimately affect the outcome of that conversation and relationship. In curious conversations it is important to remember to keep the focus on the speaker to actively listen to their perspective, needs, thoughts etc, to understand rather than listening for a place to jump in or add to the conversation. Curious conversations require us to talk with someone not at them. You can find the 5 choices of listening we always have here
- Ask curious open questions: When we don’t ask questions in conversations then we aren’t being curious. When we aren’t curious, we tell, judge, blame, shame and get stuck in a ‘I am right/ You are wrong’ headspace – often without even knowing it – all of which can lead to conflict. Now that you are present to actively listen to ABSORB and have chosen how to listen, the next step to engage in curious conversations is to ask curious open questions so you can learn and understand the speaker’s perspective. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with it; however, it does mean that you be respectful to listen to it and ask open questions to understand it. Curious conversations allow us to learn from others, look at things in ways that we may have never considered before, and gain a deeper understanding of who they are and their experiences. This is how we collaborate, innovation, engage and inspire. We have learned that most people find it challenging to ask open questions – questions that being with who, what, where, when, and how. When we don’t ask curious open questions in conversations, we shut down opportunities and possibilities. We also don’t engage or inspire. Learn more about different types of questions here, as well as the impact they have.
As you go about your day, set an intention to be present to actively listen in your conversations, choose to listen to the speaker with an open mind suspending judgment, and ask curious open questions to better understand their perspective. Following those 3 steps will support you in having curious conversations, conversations we believe will enhance ALL aspects of your life. It is time to stop looking at engaging conversations as a luxury and start looking at them as a need.
You can learn more about how to have curious conversations in The Power Of Curiosity: How To Have Real Conversations That Create Collaboration, Innovation and Understanding.