Guest Post by Claire Laughlin

First posted on March 17, 2013 at

Don’t you love the feeling of being curious? I associate it with awe, wonder, interest and spark. Imagine a company culture where this feeling exists at all levels, what a great tool to motivate, manage & lead employees. Unfortunately, as we develop our expertise and take on greater levels of responsibility, we often lose the natural instinct or ‘desire to know and learn’. There are three steps you can practice to develop this skill, but first it’s important to understand why it’s worth your time.

When we are children, curiosity is easy to come by. All things inspire curiosity. We are open to the natural world and to other people’s feelings, needs and experiences.

As we grow up, we learn that it is “knowledge,” not “questions” that earn us respect in most situations. So- curiosity competes with “expertise.” “Seeking” gives way to, “telling.” The learner and the expert go toe-to-toe in daily life.

In the business world, eager curiosity is often associated with being a “newbie.” If you are a newbie, then asking lots of questions is expected. But after a short time, questions can give the impression that we are unprepared or less knowledgeable than we should be. “Expertise” becomes the standard expectation, and it gently guides us toward being less open and less curious. (Less of a seeker, and more of a teller.) Do you remember thinking to yourself, “I can’t ask that question. I should already know the answer.” It is this pressure that convinces many of us to assert ourselves convincingly, even when we are unsure. We tell, when we should seek.

Furthermore, as we gain power in the workplace, we are called upon to know more. This is to be expected. But, the collateral damage is often that we dampen our sense of curiosity (our desire to know or learn) in favor of becoming an expert.

Claire Laughlin, Consultant & Trainer, Leadership 4 Design

As an independent consultant and trainer with 20 years of diverse experience, Claire Laughlin brings a passion for improving relationships, experience in management, and a relentless dedication to transformation to all of her work. She is fully committed to working with individuals, teams, and organizations as they learn and cultivate the habits and practices that make their organizational dynamics healthy and highly productive. Claire’s experience spans Leadership to Communication Essentials to Project Management & Customer Service and has designed and taught over one hundred courses at over 60 organizations and seven different colleges and universities. In addition to her consultancy work, Claire directs Cabrillo College’s Corporate Training Program.

Do you have a question for Claire?  Please visit Workplace-Communications Skills Community, she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert

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2 thoughts on “Curiosity: Asking the Right Questions to Motivate, Manage & Lead

  1. Jim Parks says:

    Great ideas and comments! I look forward to following and continuously learning. Jim Parks also known as “The Deep Brotha”

    1. Thanks Jim! What are your favorite “Leading with Questions?”

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