Be Curious

skyeteam leadership development

I had a painful jolt of self-awareness recently when I realized I had a habit of unfairly judging others in certain situations. Ouch. I like to think I’m a pretty accepting person – I like people, I’m interested in them, my glass is half-full, blah blah blah – but as it turns out, I was wrong about myself. Just wrong. Excuses? None. Explanation? Yes.

I had fallen victim to something all too common. I saw a person on the street, made an observation, and then built my story. All fine and good except that the story I built was totally incorrect. That incorrect story led me to make an incorrect judgment about that person. How unfair! How presumptuous! How common!

I had failed to remain curious. I didn’t ask myself how this person might have ended up where they were. I didn’t stop to think about their background, their circumstances, or the events that led to this point. I actually wasn’t curious at all. One could argue that it didn’t matter, that I would never see this person again, that nothing was lost and that no harm was done. I will argue just the opposite. It does matter, much is lost and there is plenty of harm. It matters because I missed an opportunity to think differently, to behave differently, perhaps to make a positive difference.

As I reflected on this, I realized that the same flawed sequence of observing, building a story and taking action (or not), happens in many situations at work too. Maybe it’s a colleague you just don’t connect with, maybe it’s your boss who is SO demanding, or maybe it’s that annoying person from another department who just doesn’t get it. What opportunities are missed because you haven’t thought further than what you observed. What wrong stories have been created? What connections will not be made?

So, find your curiosity. Ask, don’t assume. Wonder, don’t decide. Connect.