move a conversation forward where defensiveness attempts to stop a dialogue. Whether it's politics, the pandemic, being home with your family, or zooming with your business associates, consider that curiosity is essential to cultivate.
To find out how curious you are, take this brief quiz.
1. You are eager to learn.
2. You understand that there is always more to know.
3. You welcome feedback, even the critical kind.
4. You invite other points of view to facilitate an open dialogue and discussion.
5. You ask questions to get more information.
6. You listen when other people challenge your ideas.
7. You're not afraid to change your opinion.
8. You're open to making course corrections based on new information.
9. You create an environment where your boss, colleagues, and family can question you easily and without consequence.
10. You test your "truth" to determine if what you are sure about is correct and use data to overcome your bias towards false certainty.
If you answered yes to these ten statements, you're curious enough to ask questions and get information before you react defensively or shut down a conversation. But we all know those moments where it's challenging to listen when we've already made up our minds.
How do you practice curiosity as a skill to build better relationships, teams, and results?
Step one is to recognize when you're defensive. It takes effort to stop, take a breath, and look into what you're defending and why. Instead of acting defensively, notice your internal response, and examine your reaction to see if you can turn it into a question. When you notice you're defensive you can say, let's look and openly ask questions like:
• What do you notice?
• What are the obstacles you see?
• What do you want?
• What's going on?
• What's your concern?
• What's your complaint?
And then listen attentively and consider the information as a possibility. I know this takes time, but it's time well spent.
Don't worry about being right. If you're right about something, you'll still be right after looking into the subject with others. But in the meantime, you'll create relationships that aren't rubber stamps of how you think and act.
Ask yourself if being defensive is a suitable strategy. Or is it just how you've been trained to think, lead, and act up until now. Why not use your reactions to pause, and instead of defending, initiate an inquiry? You may be surprised by the new insights you find and the genuine relationships you build. Curiosity is the path to clarity. It's not easy, but it's illuminating and humbling to find out you don't know everything.
So, let's look and stay curious!
May your day be peaceful and productive.
Paulette Sun Davis