EditorialsLeadership

Why don’t you ask more questions?

When interviewing potential team members the trait of curiosity was always near the top of my list. Why? Curious individuals often come up with the most innovative and even breakthrough ideas that can make a real difference in business. Curious people probe and ask the questions that can make some leaders feel a little uncomfortable. And that’s OK, too.

My attitude is, bring it on! We need thought-provoking team players that challenge the status quo. That’s the only way to move the needle. Here’s how to get more curious every day.

Practice inquisitive thinking.
Don’t just take the things you see, hear and experience in the workplace at face value. Instead, explore, investigate and observe. Probe for reasons and understanding. Ask harder questions. Experts suggest that curiosity is a driving force in human development. In the business world curiosity is compounded; it’s an essential leadership skill.

Converse with curiosity.
Start conversations with a mindset of curiosity. When something is of interest to you or appears important to the other person don’t let the subject die. Listen well so you can probe further with your own insightful questions. Ask more — how, why, where, when, etc. Every conversation can evolve your education, strengthen friendships and lead to future connections.

Be a good interviewer.
Prepare for each interview with a handful of key topics and a curiously positive attitude. Watch how one question can lead to another. When a candidate speaks of a particular success, drill down deeply to understand the key factors that drove that success. You’ll get a clearer picture of a candidate by spending more time on a few really important topics rather than checking off every box on a standard questionnaire.

Make friends with change.
They say the only constant in life is change. But most people fear change, and the bigger the change the greater the fear. But this is the time to be ultra-curious. Because the more you understand about the changes coming at you in business the better you will be able to cope with and execute on a new goal. It’s particularly important to understand big-picture goals, the methods of measurement and the real reasons behind change. So study up and then ask every logical question you can.

Get to know people better.
The workplace is not the only place that curiosity can lead to good things. Try it at home. For example, kids are naturally curious about the world but they also like it when other people are curious about them. When you ask questions or share your own experiences about being a kid or teen once, too, they will eventually open up. But practice consistently — a free-flowing session each night— and don’t be afraid to change your inquiry style. They’ll come around, and your relationship will be stronger for it.

Become more interesting.
It sounds silly, but being curious makes you a smarter, more interesting person. When you can ask good questions and show genuine interest in others’ lives, people will gravitate toward you. We all feel good when we can talk about what’s important in our own life and spark a connection with someone. Curiosity is an admirable attribute: it earns you respect, strengthens your friendships and makes your life infinitely more interesting.
That catchphrase “curiosity killed the cat” doesn’t hold up for humans. In fact, we’re more alive because of it.

published, Nashville Business Journal

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