“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” - Albert Einstein
How frequently do you find yourself Googling something to satisfy your curiosity? For me, it’s multiple times a day. At least.
It’s never been easier to quell our curiosity. However, learning to embrace it can be tremendously valuable in our professional lives.
where does curiosity add the most value?
When receiving feedback
Imagine a scenario where you’re likely to receive some critical - or at least constructive - feedback. Perhaps it’s a performance review or a post-mortem on a project that didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. Responding with openness and curiosity, rather than reactivity, will ensure a more productive discussion.
According to a 2017 study, curious individuals are more likely to ask open questions, such as “What do you think?” or “Where could I go next with this?” These types of questions yield more actionable feedback, ultimately contributing to a better final product.
It’s a basic selling principle: understanding a customer’s needs is critical for making the sale. In that vein, showing curiosity and genuine interest in your customer will get you further than diving straight into your pitch.
But there are many ways to demonstrate curiosity - asking questions, showing you’ve done your research, exhibiting enthusiasm - and not all of them work every single time. For example, asking too many questions too soon or interrupting the customer can sabotage your sale.
How to embrace curiosity and drive more sales? Active listening is key.
Not only does it help you understand your customer - and tailor your pitch accordingly - it allows you to build trust and influence. (We’ve got more to say on this here.)
There’s growing acknowledgement - from Forbes to our own founder & CEO Ellie Hearne - that successful leaders possess self-awareness. It makes sense; good leaders should be open to exploring their strengths, weaknesses, and potential blindspots. And self-awareness requires a degree of curiosity - a willingness to learn more about oneself.
But the impact of curiosity goes beyond an individual leader’s success; it permeates an entire organization. It’s been shown to contribute to fewer decision making errors, less team conflict, increased innovation, more open communication, and overall better team performance.
As industries evolve at a progressively faster pace, there’s a demand for individuals to keep up. This is especially true if you’re looking to advance or change your career. Maintaining an open, curious mindset about how you can continue to evolve your skill set will make you a more competitive job candidate.
There are many ways to bolster your credentials; find something that aligns with your interests, schedule, and budget. Consider taking an online course, listening to podcasts (ask us for our favorites), reading articles or books, tapping into the knowledge of your professional network, or volunteering for new work assignments that will stretch you.
Change can be intimidating, but a willingness to learn can be your secret weapon.
With endless information a finger-swipe away, it’s hard to ignore the constant impulse to seek answers. And I’m not suggesting we stop Googling (though it certainly wouldn’t hurt occasionally). What I am suggesting is that we start leaning into our curiosity. Approach feedback conversations with an open mind; strive to learn as much about your customers as you can; be willing to explore your own strengths and weaknesses as a leader; and seek ways to continue building on your skills, to stretch yourself professionally.
Embracing curiosity can be a boon for your professional life.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” - Albert Einstein
A leadership coach and facilitator, Amy Spelman inspires individuals and teams to perform at their best. She’s worked closely with brands like American Express, Bread Finance, Marriott, Merck, New York Public Library, Penn Mutual, St. Regis, Tapestry, The Luxury Collection, and W Hotels, among others. Amy is curious about your feedback - you can reach her here.