If you have been reading my blog you know that I like to remind us all that we are doing exactly what we are designed to do. That said, we all show up with an amazing and wonderful mix of design and dysfunction. So, while we are doing what we are designed to do, our execution is not always optimal. With that in mind, let’s tune up our talents and tune into the habit of being curious.
Curious is an adjective that means 1. a. Marked by desire to investigate and learn. 1. b. Marked by inquisitive interest in theres’ concerns (Merriam-Webster). While some CliftonStrengths® talents naturally lend themselves to being curious, others that are more “rule-based” may make being curious more of a challenge. The good news is that no matter what talents are your strongest, they can all be used to promote and facilitate curiosity. Here’s my quick take. Find your top 2-5 talents and read some tips on growing and showing your curiosity.
Achiever®: Since you tend to be goal-oriented, consider setting a goal to ask a question about someone’s perspective before you offer your own perspective.
Activator®: You may be quick to act, including starting conversations. Memorize 5 questions known to be great conversation starters and use them liberally!
Adaptability®: Embrace this talent and the skill of Perspective Taking. In this case, you empathetically identify with the other person in order to better understand their position. It has been suggested that perspective-taking may be the most important success factor for a company. Might it also be an important success factor for individuals as well?
Analytical®: Capitalize on your love of puzzling over things and ask questions to uncover and understand the other person’s perspective. What has led them to their perspective? Why is it so important to them? How are they contributing to their solution?
Arranger®: Curiosity presents you with a great opportunity to “tinker” with reasons, rationale, and arguments. “What if…?” Is a great way to be curious and explore ideas with other people.
Belief®: Play the “yes – and” game. While this talent might tempt you to slam on the brakes when someone espouses a position contrary to your values, instead of debating with them, agree with them. You don’t need to agree with everything. Find that 10%, or even less where you do agree, and build on it. Do this by leading with, “What I like about that idea is ____________, and I think it would also be great is we could _____________.”
Command®: While Command can show up in talent form as telling others what to do, in its strongest form, Command is about motivating others, not controlling them. Embrace the cliché, “Leaders are Learners,” and make it your job as a great leader to really learn about the other person and her perspective.
Communication®: Lean onto your ability to tell stories and find metaphors and when someone offers a perspective or idea, ask them for a story that connects them to their idea. Or, if you don’t want to hear a long story, offer them a metaphor to demonstrate and ensure that you understand their point or perspective.
Competition®: You are probably goal-oriented and love to win. Play a game with yourself, or if you are attending a function with friends, a spouse, etc, see who can ask the most questions yet offer the fewest unsolicited opinions at gatherings.
Connectedness®: You have a natural ability to build bridges and see relationships across cultures and ideas. To express value in the other person’s perspective. Ask them for examples of how they see their idea being applied in different cultures and contexts.
Consistency®: This one can be tricky as this talent likes to see everyone treated the same, or “fairly.” Here again, asking questions can promote understanding, clarity, and express curiosity. If something seems unfair to you, rather than state it as such, ask for clarification about how a position or perspective is or is not inconsistent/just/fair. Be mindful of your tone and ask with sincerity as opposed to derision, judgment, or challenge. Make it your goal to learn.
Context®: Go with your love of history and being a natural “sleuth” and ask how that person came to believe or support their perspective.
Deliberative®: Here again, your talent is your ally. As a Deliberative, you want to avoid waste, problems, roadblocks. You can avoid an angry debate, a miserable gathering, and even a family feud by embracing curiosity. Learn about The other person’s perspective, story, goals, and be less concerned about asserting your position. You are much more likely to have more fun and less pain.
Developer®: For you, every interaction is an opportunity to strengthen someone. Go into a conversation with the goal of helping that person strengthen his understanding of his position and his persona. You don’t have to agree with him and you can certainly ask, questions such as, “what are some possible flaws/weaknesses/downsides of your idea?”
Discipline®: This is a great opportunity for you to create structure around your conversations. Build a habit of responding to others’ strong and different opinions with questions. Ask people why they are so passionate about their positions; what are they doing to support their causes; how has their advocacy helped them and others, etc. Make curiosity a discipline.
Empathy®: Similar to Adaptability, you are a natural for Perspective Taking. Use your natural empathic abilities to probe and understand the other person’s motives and emotions. Seek points of agreement and honor their conviction, even if you don’t agree. You have an innate ability to feel with that person and that is a great gift. Let that person know he is “seen.”
Focus®: Set your mind and heart on being curious. Focus on the other person more than you focus on your perspective. Before you head out to the next holiday gathering take a minute to remind yourself that your focus for the evening is curiosity.
Futuristic®: As a natural visionary you probably have a positive view of what can be. Maybe the people that you meet have ideas that can help you see that vision realized. Ask them how their ideas and views might make the world a better place. I think we can all agree that the world can be, and we want it to be a better place.
Harmony®: You love win-win solutions and have a knack for finding common ground. A holiday gathering is a great opportunity to pursue those. Like the Belief talent, play the “yes – and” game and explore all the possibilities that can come from building on points of agreement rather than assailing positions of disagreement.
Ideation®: Is there a better place to pursue creativity than a holiday gathering? Maybe, but this sure is a good one. Use your ideation to come up with creative ways to be curious. What are some creative questions you can ask to draw out the deeper waters of a person’s heart and mind? Look over the suggestions for other talents and set a goal, play a game, develop a list of questions that promote curiosity. See how many different ways you can be curious this season.
Includer®: You are drawn to those on the fringe, those who are easily overlooked. You can offer them a beautiful gift this season as you reach out to them with curiosity. Ask them about their wins this year, the things they’ve learned, and their hopes for next year. See how much you can learn and honor in those people as you show your interest in them by being curious.
Individualization®: You already know that everyone is unique and gifted. Test your hunches about their gifts and ask them whether or not they see that in themselves? How might they use and grow that gift? Be curious about the things that move them forward and hold them back.
Input®: This is a natural place to let this talent shine. Go into Input mode as you meet people and seek to gain as much knowledge as possible. When you bump into ideas or positions that you disagree with, keep inputting! Ask why they believe as they do? What events confirm those beliefs? How do those beliefs and ideas shape their lives?
Intellection®: Use your gift of thinking deeply about things to slow down and be curious. You might find it helpful to have a list of thought-provoking questions memorized that will show your curiosity and engender curiosity. Questions about how an idea or perspective can help or hurt other people can bring great reflection and deep connection.
Learner®: Yet another talent that is naturally curious. Tap into your love of learning by purposing to be curious so you can learn about other ideas, concepts, people, and perspectives. Ultimately, you may not agree but you will surely learn a lot about people.
Maximizer®: Since you want to get the most out of your experiences, purpose to get the most peace, joy, and connection from your relationships this holiday season. Once you connect curiosity to maximizing your holiday experience things will fall into place nicely. However, if a great holiday for you is one filled with fights, arguments, hurt feelings, bruised egos, broken relationships, and family feuds. In that case, don’t be curious.
Positivity®: Finding the “silver lining” comes pretty naturally to you so lean into that trait. How might different ideas and perspectives create positive results? What good intentions are behind others’ ideas and positions? Ask people and find out! Play the “yes- and” game and capitalize on the good parts of others’ ideas.
Relator®: Yes, when you meet people you have a pretty good sense of whether or not they are a good candidate for BFF. Still, by making hasty determinations you may lose potential allies and miss important opportunities. Determine to approach the holiday party crowds with an openness and a sense of curiosity. When the crowds become overwhelming give yourself permission to retreat to one of your real best friends either by text, call, or in person. Go into large gatherings with an “escape plan” so you can care for yourself, and then better care for others by offering your curiosity.
Responsibility®: Be discerning about what you are responsible to and what you are responsible for. You are responsible to be kind and you are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness. It is easy to confuse the things that we are responsible to and for. So this Holiday season, focus on the idea that you are responsible to be curious, but you are not responsible for the outcomes or reactions of others. Show up with a genuine sense of caring for others by being curious about them, their ideas, and their beliefs.
Restorative (TM): Focus your love of fixing things on the people around you. Most people are “broken” in that they feel insecure, inadequate, and unloved. When you take an interest in them by being curious about the things they care about you restore their spirit, their sense of self. Don’t you love it when people take a genuine interest in you? You can offer them that same restoring energy and affirmation when you are curious about them.
Self-Assurance®: I get it, you know, you… just… know. And that is actually a real gift. Now, be open to what you don’t know. You know that you can be a real encouragement to others. Lean into that sense of confidence by putting it into practice when you develop the skill of curiosity. Seek out the things that you don’t know about others. In this way, you won’t just know, you’ll have the proof to show that you are a great encourager.
Significance®: Along with Self-Assurance, this is one of the least well-understood talents. It is important to you that your life makes a difference. You want to be a part of something larger. Curiosity can play an important role in ensuring that you live a life of significance. Not only will your curiosity gain you knowledge and experience that you can apply in many situations, your curiosity can actually play a significant role in the lives of others. When you take an interest in someone else you validate them. Few things in life are as important and significant as bringing validation to others.
Strategic®: What is your goal for the holiday season? What role can curiosity play in reaching that goal? If your goal/s involve maximum joy and positive relationships then determine how you can employ curiosity to that end. What questions can you ask others? What are other people doing to actually thrive in the season and not just survive? What role does curiosity play in their plan and yours? The great thing about Strategic is the variety of success paths so find questions, play games, and set various goals to deploy curiosity.
Woo®: Talking with strangers is not an issue for you because, for you, there are no strangers! As you get into your conversations this holiday season your natural curiosity will come out as you look for commonalities with them, yourself, and others. Before you connect them to someone who can help them, pause for a minute and ask them why their goals and ideas are important to them. By going deeper with your curiosity you are less likely to make broad assumptions, and in turn, make even stronger connections for them as you give them your own dose of validation. That is sure to take them to a better place.
I really hope that this is helpful to you. May this be a season filled with joy, connection, and curiosity! And when all else fails, remember that everyone, including you, is doing what they are designed to do. That is curious, is it not?
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