Here in ITK land, we aim to foster an atmosphere of curiosity everywhere we go. Most of us are pretty curious by nature, and ITK work is full of opportunities to indulge our “strong desire to know.” Naturally, pretty much all the tools in our toolkit are question-based, and are designed to draw out thoughts, ideas, and perspectives from the groups we work with. Our facilitation techniques are similarly focused on helping teams dig deeper, explore new areas, and learn new things together.
The truth is, curiosity is an action as much as an identity. It’s what we do as much as who we are. And the good news is that curiosity-as-a-verb points towards specific behaviors that anyone can adopt, should they choose to. Have you ever wanted to be more curious? If so, read on!
The most fundamental way to exhibit curiosity is pretty simple: ask questions. Here’s what that might look like.
Suppose someone tells you they did marching band in high school. How might you respond to that statement?
The non-curious option is to say “Cool, I was in band too!” and then start talking about yourself. Or “Yeah, I did sports / theater / chess club / etc instead of band.” And then keep talking about yourself.
The curious option, in contrast, is to ask a question such as “Oh, what instrument did you play?” And maybe follow it up with more questions, like “Did you play all four years? Did you enjoy it? Do you still play? What did you like about it the most? Do you miss it?”
OK, maybe don’t ask all those questions at once (that’d be annoying), but I bet you see the pattern. This curiosity behavior is a discipline we can choose to cultivate, a repeatable practice that anyone can adopt. All it takes is a moment to stop and remember to ask a question. Whether we’re facilitating an ITK session or just chatting with a friend, this posture of curiosity helps keep the conversation going and leads to learning new things. And that brings us to one final question: will you try this?
(featured image is used with permission from Wikimedia Commons user Eesco9141, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:3_Cats_in_the_Window.jpg)