How to Leverage the Power of Curiosity to Build Relationships and Generate Breakthrough Opportunities

Patrick Ewers
Jun 26, 2018 · 6 min read
Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash.

Somewhere along the line, the concept of “curiosity” got a bad rap. For example, you’ve probably heard the famous saying, “Curiosity killed the cat.” Judging by that belief, curiosity’s bad thing; something to be avoided.

The problem is, “curiosity killed the cat” is only half the saying. When you trace it back to it’s origins, you’ll find it actually says something to the effect of …

Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.

Here at Mindmaven, we believe curiosity is one of the most powerful concepts in relationship marketing and network management. In fact, it’s the foundation of almost everything we teach our clients.

In this article, I’m going to dive into why I believe curiosity is such a powerful trait. But beyond that, I’m also going to teach you three ways to boost your natural curiosity and become a more curious person.

Let’s get started.

Curiosity: The Most Powerful Word in Relationship Marketing

So why’s curiosity so important?

First and foremost, curious people are intrigued by new and different ideas. They’re fascinated in how things work, and by truly understanding situations and people.

As a result, curious people tend to be open-minded people; and only someone with a truly open mind can fully generate and leverage breakthrough opportunities from their network.

Think about it: When you’re curious, you ask questions. And by asking questions, you become the leader of a conversation. You can move it in practically any direction, while still providing an exceptional experience to the person you’re talking with.

After all, when you’re the one asking questions, you’re only taking up around 20% of the “talking time,” while the other person — who is answering your questions — takes up 80% of the “talking time.”

And here’s the kicker: Research has shown that people who talk for 50% of the conversation or more have a much higher propensity of reporting a positive experience about not only the meeting, but about you as well.

When you’re curious, you actively listen to the other person; and nothing builds trust and deepens relationships quite as effectively as allowing the other person to feel truly heard and valued.

Three Ways to Send Your Curiosity Through the Roof

Alright, so we’ve covered why curiosity is valuable; but let’s recap the three primary benefits of practicing curiosity:

  • You make the other person feel heard and valued.
  • By making the other person feel heard and valued, you deepen the relationship and build trust, and
  • By deepening the relationship and building trust, you increase the likelihood of generating the breakthrough opportunities you need from your network to reach your fullest potential.

But some of you might be thinking, “I’m just not a curious person by nature.” To that, I say “BS.”

Humans are, by their very nature, curious creatures. For proof, look no further than children: Kids have an insatiable need to understand how things work. Anyone who has ever heard a 2-year-old ask “Why?” (for the 15th time in a row) can attest to that.

Curiosity is built into us but, so often, we lose our natural curiosity as we become adults. Societal expectations teach us to limit questions and accept things as they are.

The good news is, that child-like curiosity is still in you; it just needs to be rekindled. And with that in mind, here’s three ways to send your natural curiosity through the roof.

#1: Create Awareness When You Notice Something of Interest

To some extent, curiosity happens on a daily basis. It’s that small spark in your mind that comes to life when you find something interesting, or when you start to ask, “Why?”

But if — like many people — you don’t feed that spark, it’ll never become a fire.

So here’s my first tip: Any time you notice that small spark, consciously label those thoughts as “Curiosity.” This label will become a trigger and, anytime you notice it, develop a habit of asking yourself one or two questions that dig a little deeper.

For example, if you feel that spark in the middle of a conversation, you might ask questions like …

  • “What do you mean by that?”
  • “What makes you say that?”
  • “What experience led you to believe this?”

These questions allow you to drill deeper into the topic at hand and create that sense of satisfaction that “brings the cat back.”

#2: Celebrate Your Curiosity

Any time you make an entertaining or valuable discovery as a result of your curiosity, celebrate it! Appreciate the fact that you only discovered this as a result of asking questions and feeding your curiosity.

Keep in mind, this celebration doesn’t need to be anything major. Simply taking the time to acknowledge and appreciate the full extent of the discovery is all it takes.

By doing so, you start to undo the damage done by a world that tries to dampen curiosity in favor of quiet obedience. By celebrating these small victories, you’ll find it easier to tap into and leverage your curiosity throughout your day-to-day life.

#3: Practice Proactive Curiosity

Even without the wealth of scientific studies to back this statement, I’d be 100% confident in saying that those who are proactive in life tend to be much more successful than those who are reactive.

I’ve simply seen the positive effects of proactivity — and the negative effects of reactivity — in life too many times to deny it. And that’s why I highly recommend practicing proactive curiosity.

So what is proactive curiosity? In a nutshell, it means picking a topic you’re genuinely interested in and proactively seeking knowledge related to that topic.

This can be done in a personal and/or professional setting, but let me give you an example of how you might practice this in your career.

Let’s say you’re curious about how the recruiting process works for the types of clients you serve. Now, you aren’t a recruiter so this knowledge isn’t directly applicable to your industry. But by understanding more about their recruiting process, you may uncover ways you can better serve them. In fact, you may even find ways you can improve your own recruiting process.

So with that topic in mind, you actively seek opportunities to ask questions related to recruiting as you talk to clients and other connections. If you’re persistent enough in practicing this curiosity, you’ll probably uncover information that will lead to powerful opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have experienced.

Of course, that’s just one example and the sky’s the limit in terms of what you could choose to be curious about. For example, maybe you want to learn …

  • The productivity hacks of successful CEOs,
  • How to effectively work with an assistant, or even
  • Unconventional ways to improve your golf game.

Once you’ve chosen a topic, use any and all relevant interactions to ask questions to help you satisfy your curiosity. For example: If you went with the productivity hacks topic and you knew you were about to meet with a CEO, you could come up with a handful of questions to ask in advance and guide the conversation using them.

The topic itself doesn’t matter, as long as it’s something you’re genuinely interested in. That’s the key: If you aren’t truly interested in the topic, it’s going to be very hard to cultivate a lasting curiosity.

Moreover, the person you’re conversing with will probably be able to tell if you don’t actually care about the topic you’re asking about. And the moment they realize you’re just placating them or feigning interest, you’ll actually do more harm than good to the relationship.

Curiosity is the Key to Long-Term Growth

Remember: Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.

Curiosity, in and of itself, isn’t going to do you any good. But when you leverage that curiosity to create satisfaction — both for you and within your relationships — you’ll find yourself not only building deeper, more meaningful relationships … You’ll probably find yourself generating breakthrough opportunities within your life and business as a result.

All because you paused and took the time to ask “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “how,” and, perhaps most importantly, “why.”

Whether your building relationships or a business, curiosity is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. Don’t be afraid to use it.

Better Humans

Patrick Ewers

Written by

Executive coach & founder of Mindmaven, a company that teaches entrepreneurs and leaders how to generate breakthrough opportunities from their network.

Better Humans

Better Humans is a collection of the world's most trustworthy writing on human potential and self improvement by coaches, academics, and aggressive self-experimenters. Articles are based on deep personal experience, science, and research. No fluff, book reports, or listicles.

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