|The Lounge | Champions | The Wire | Schedule | Audio | Arcade | The Top Ten | Historical | Email | Video|
Being Genuinely Curious
Yesterday at the dinner table, my eleven-year-old daughter asked me, "Aren't there times when you absolutely know you're right and the other person is wrong?" She had a disagreement at school that day and believed that her view was the truth. I said, "I used to think I was always right and that other people were wrong. Now I still think I may be right, but I realize that other people know things that I don't. I'm more interested in learning than being right."
This month I want to describe how you can use curiosity - a key principle of The Skilled Facilitator and Facilitative Leader approach - to increase your effectiveness. My clients often tell me that learning to be curious has significantly improved their relationships with others and the results they get.
Curiosity is the desire to learn. When you're genuinely curious, you assume that other people may have information that you don't have. You also assume that others may see things that you may miss. As a result, you consider your point of view open to change.
When I first started practicing the Skilled Facilitator approach, I was not genuinely curious. If people disagreed with me, I was curious about their points of view, but only so that I could use what I learned to better advocate my own point of view. I still believed that I was right and they were wrong. My colleague Peg Carlson made this clear when she said, "Roger, having a disagreement with you is like a war of attrition. I know we'll end up doing what you want. It's just a matter of how long I want to hang in." I was just more sophisticated about hiding my belief, but it still guided my behavior. Does this describe you at times?
What I learned then is that it's not enough to ask others about their points of view. If you're not genuinely curious and if you're not interested in seeking valid information, you will use your pseudo-curiosity to control others. And they will figure this out, even if you know how to say the right words such as, "do you see it differently?" or "what problems do you see with my suggestion?" To help her make the transition, my colleague Sue McKinney took to asking herself this question: "What would I say if I were curious?" It's helped many of our clients build their curiosity.
When you're genuinely curious, your questions come easily and naturally. When someone gives you negative feedback about your performance, if you're genuinely curious, you can ask, "Can you give me some specific examples of times when I've done that? That would really help me understand better." And if, when you get the examples, you see it differently, then you say so and still remain curious, exploring how the two of you see your performance in different lights.
My clients often assume incorrectly that they have to be less vocal about their own point of view to be curious about others' views. Not so. As long as you're as curious about others views as you are passionate about your own, you will be able to use your curiosity to work effectively with others.
Sometimes the structures we work in make it more difficult for us to be curious. One of my favorite examples is a client that has a performance management system in which your boss has to approve your direct report's performance evaluation before you can discuss the evaluation with your direct report. This sets up a dynamic in which you can find yourself in a dilemma if you are genuinely curious about how your direct report sees your evaluation of him. If you're curious and find out that your direct report sees his performance more positively, and if you realize that you had missed some important information that would have led you to increase his rating, the system makes it difficult to change the rating that your boss has already approved. As a result, you are likely to control the performance evaluation with your direct report so that you don't learn anything that would lead you to change your mind. This is just one of many examples. As you look around your organization or the organizations you work with, look for other structures or procedures that inhibit curiosity.
Next month I'll talk about a related principle underlying our approach - saying what you're thinking, or transparency.
© 2005 Roger Schwarz
Roger Schwarz, Ph.D., is author of the international bestseller "The Skilled Facilitator: A Comprehensive Resource for Consultants, Facilitators, Managers, Trainers and Coaches" and co-author of the recent "Skilled Facilitator Fieldbook: Tips, Tools, and Tested Methods for Consultants, Facilitators, Managers, Trainers, and Coaches," both available on Amazon.com and via other quality booksellers.
You can subscribe on our site to Fundamental Change, Roger Schwarz & Associates' free, monthly ezine: http://www.schwarzassociates.com/ezine_signup.html In exchange for subscribing, you'll receive a link to a free .pdf copy of "Holding Risky Conversations," a chapter from our recently-published fieldbook.
We write Fundamental Change to help you create workplaces and communities that are simultaneously highly effective and that improve the quality of life.
Every month we:
* Address issues important to you as practitioners and leaders
Bostrom on Superintelligence (6): Motivation Selection Methods - Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
What Comes First the Action or the Feeling?
In other words, it is in the "doing" that we appreciate and learn the meaning of an action or activity, not simply in thinking about it.It's the action that preceeds the "feeling," whether it's the glory of victory or the agony of defeat.
I worked hard for the past 17 years. I felt I had to.
The Seven Keys to Motivation
Motivation. It's a complicated subject that is studied by many and understood by few.
Words Have Power
How many times have you heard or read that words have power? Maybe it was in the context of working 'magic' or 'positive affirmations' or visualization techniques and you just dismissed it as more of that 'psychic hooha'.Well, in my humble opinion, if you dismissed it, then you're closing your mind to an important truth.
What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?
The next time you find yourself relaxing on the couch, having popped some corn and about to watch the "Sopranos", instead, pose this $1,000,000 lottery question to yourself and see what flows. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Would you work, not work? If you knew anything you touched or did held the possibility for success - whatever that is, what would you do? If there were no time constraints, no obstacles, no self-doubt, what would you do?Some of you are already saying, "What's the point of this!?" "This will never be real!" "Who's got a million dollars??Not me!" Well, the whole point is to have you dream.
Are You Stuck?
You know the feeling.There's something you want to do.
Procrastination: Hypnosis Can Help You Overcome It
I recently saw a t-shirt with the following saying: "Procrastinate later." I had a great laugh.
Review: Productivity Engineering- A hypnosis program to help you improve your performance at work."Buy a hypnosis CD program? Will that really help me get more work done? Can it improve my work performance?"I know, this is a little off the beaten path when compared to the usual courses and services I review.
Achieving Your Dreams
Have you achieved your dreams? Dreams are an important part of our lives and should not be ignored. Our dreams inspire us to achieve unbelievable deeds, create stunning works of art, bring to life the impossible and give us hope and strength to look toward tomorrow with optimism and determination.
A Surfing Lesson
I've never surfed in my life. Sometimes people tell me I look like a surfer, but never once have I been on a board out in the water.
Lego Laws for Life
Just about everybody owns or has owned a bucket of Legos in their time. There's no denying the fun they provide for a child or even for an adult, which is why, many Lego collections are passed down from one generation to the next.
Self Determination - Making the Most Out of You
Breaking the mold of being a child is difficult. The mere addition of years does not make that happen.
How to Get rid of the "Overwhelm" Monster
If you wear many hats, manage a family and/or a business, it is easy to feel overwhelmed on a regular basis. Too much to do, not enough time, money, or help to do it.
The natural cycle of life is to grow and move forward but moving forward brings with it an element of the unknown. It is human nature to fear the unknown.
"Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway." - John Wayne"Courage is the cliché hallmark attributed to the hero.
Is Work Still Necessary?
I have a confession to make - several confessions in fact.I have at times been stupid enough to believe that work is not necessary to make money or achieve success.
Motivation and Change: Creating Your Daily Success Program
I get some of my best ideas for my column from my clients.One idea that really seems to work for one of my clients is having a daily success program.
Commit to Doing 80%
Instead of trying to be perfect, it is better to do your best, and often your best doesn't look like going all out all the time. This is especially true when you are making changes in your life.
Self-Motivation for Trainers
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-MOTIVATION FOR TRAINERS: Lack of self-motivation is an unfortunate side effect of our accelerated times. Many people today are cynical and disillusioned or feel that to appear sophisticated, they must become so.
The Simple Life
When we talk about a Simple Life, we are not talking about Paris and Nicole. We are talking about a life that is in harmony with our values.
Section Site Map - Submit News - Feedback - Comments - Advertise with Us
Copyright © 2006 Luminati Inc. All rights reserved.