In today’s fast paced world what we know today might not be valuable to us in a few weeks, months or years. If we want to keep up-to-date, we need to continue to seek out and explore new information, new mediums, and new opportunities.
We need to be more curious.
Here are some tips to help you be more curious:
It’s often easy to default to assumptions when faced with a challenging unknown, but it’s better to work through knowledge gaps by asking questions.
When we ask questions, we’re creating an opportunity to discover new, and useful information that can be used to challenge our existing approach, expand our vision, and spark fresh ideas. Questioning allows us to become more insightful.
2. Consume content that’s outside your comfort zone
I did not realise how much was involved in assembling a flat pack until I bought a new desk that had to be assembled. It’s interesting that when we don’t have any initial knowledge about something, we’re not really curious about it . . . that is until we have to be.
In 1995, George Leowenstein, a professor of economics and psychology (a strange mixture) at Carnegie Mellon University, suggested that curiosity does, in fact, require some initial knowledge. In other words, the more we know, the more we want to know.
If you want to be more curious tap into a subject matter you don’t know much about. Whether you focus on dog breeds, Egyptian pyramids, beer brewing or something entirely different is up to you. The important part is that the content is unfamiliar, and basic research will encourage you to know more.
3. Listen with Judgement
“Curious people are often considered good listeners and conversationalists”,
explains Ben Dean, PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.
By suspending judgement, you’re ultimately allowing yourself to be more receptive to what someone is saying. You’re focusing less on what you are going to say next, and more on the words and information they’re choosing to tell you.
So next time you’re having a conversation with someone, just listen. When you take the time to truly listen to hear what they are saying, it’ll be easier for you to construct questions, warm up to new perspectives, and learn something new that you may have otherwise missed.
4. Welcome the Unexpected
Many people find themselves frightened by their own doubts, which causes them to miss out on new places, tasks, people and experiences. However, doing something unexpected can trigger a chain of reactions (both positive and negative) that you can learn from and construct questions based on.
Research reveals that surprise can actually drive our motivation to learn, so embrace the unexpected and celebrate whatever the outcome.
5. Try not to dwell on the past
When you spend your time worrying about the past, you don’t give yourself a chance to be curious about the future. So rather than worrying about what you could have done, would have done, or should have changed in your last project, try to focus on strategies for blowing your next assignment out of the water.
The problem many of us have is that we stop being curious about new experiences and are instead focused on understanding what we’ve already been through.
What new opportunities are out there for you to explore? Is there a new technology that you want to embrace? Focus on what’s to come, not what’s already happened.
6. Change your perspective on a situation
Rather than be complacent when it comes to making decisions or planning projects, allow yourself to view the situation from the perspective of a stranger or better still as a buyer.
What would they suggest? What concerns would they have? What challenges do they face? Then look at the situation through the eyes of your competitor, your boss and continue the questioning exercise.
When we are curious about others and talk to people outside our usual social circle, we become better able to understand those with different lives, experiences and world views.