How (and why) to train your brain to be more curious at work
We naturally accept that curiosity in the workplace is a good thing. When people are interested in questioning and learning, they can discover better ways of doing things, invent new products, or find solutions to problems.
However, the assumptions we make about what sparks curiosity is often incorrect. Therefore, rethinking them and encouraging some curiosity-related habits may help in developing this attribute.
Curiosity can be considered in terms of variations that exist within individuals, moment to moment. These variations depend on the interest in and knowledge of a subject.
Curiosity is unlikely when you know nothing about a topic or are very sure about a particular topic. However, you may be most curious about subjects that fall into a middle ground, where you know just enough to find it interesting, but not too much that it becomes boring.
Your brain loves certainty. So, it may be more challenging to stay curious during times of stress or upheaval.
If you are in a state of uncertainty, it is helpful to move into a self-management approach with two key questions:
The insight is that we control far less than we think and influence far more than we realise. When you stop trying to manage what you can't change, your anxiety will lessen, leaving more space for curiosity.
In some cases, such as facing a collective problem or shared interest, you may be more curious when in a group.
A group is curious when they face the same kind of problem or question. It creates a space for thinking in new ways.
Curiosity can be contagious under the right conditions.
For example, when dancers make a mistake, instead of saying, "That's not the right way to do it," they would say, "that was interesting." Then they take a moment to play with it.
When you're in the middle of asking questions to satisfy your curiosity, you may be tempted to give advice instead of finding out why someone is asking.
When you engage with team members, instead of giving answers, ask, "what's the real challenge here for you?"
You can become more curious over time if you make a habit of exploring new subjects.
You will become interested in other related things, understanding there's a relationship between what you know and could know.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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