Curiosity didn’t kill the cat- it just made it smarter. Being inquisitive opens us to new information and experiences that can help us thrive in the workplace and beyond. A wide-eyed and genuinely interested approach not only enhances learning, but it has other psychological benefits as well. Here’s why seeking novelty is necessary for the New Year:
Cu·ri·os·i·ty- noun: an inquisitive interest, an eager wish to learn
It’s the urge you feel to know more, and a desire to explore, investigate or learn something new. Research shows that curious people are happier, healthier and more empathetic. Our brains are wired to be curious, and release feel-good chemicals like dopamine when we tap into that drive. It feels fantastic to challenge ourselves, learn new things and embrace the unknown.
Curiosity is what motivates us to step outside our comfort zone and make new connections. It’s no wonder it leads to stronger relationships. Questioning what makes others tick and expressing interest in their world builds bonds. Genuine curiosity not only shows you care, but it makes you a better listener. Curious people are fun, and curiosity is contagious; when coworkers realize you want to know about their lives, they’ll pay attention to yours, too.
How to cultivate it:
The key ingredient of curiosity is one word: why. Remember to ask thoughtful questions about things you don’t know much about. Think outside the box and explore the unknown. It’s easy to get into a routine and blindly go through the motions, so pay attention and start questioning. To spark curiosity, be inquisitive about the unfamiliar. If you’re usually laser focused only on your role, ask about what your coworkers are working on. Understanding others’ projects and goals will enhance team connectivity and bring you closer as a group.
Ignite your curiosity outside of work, too. Expand your mind by being open to new experiences or hobbies. For instance, break outside of your comfort zone by taking a cooking or dance class. If you typically stay in on Sunday mornings, go for a walk instead. Try a park or trail you’ve never been to and tread new terrain. Be present and delve deep into the unfamiliar to cultivate your curiosity.
Practicing curiosity is like flexing a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. When you pay attention, expand your mind and open your eyes, you’ll find novelty in your surroundings and gain a fresh perspective. Explore new topics by reading books, listening to podcasts or taking classes. If you don’t know where to start, get suggestions from others. Harvard Business Review, TED Radio Hour and Forbes are great places to begin your discoveries. Most importantly, to be passionately curious, always be learning.
When you have an interview, meeting or event, trade your nerves for curiosity. An interest in a new position or client can push anxiety to the background. Those jitters don’t stand a chance when you cultivate excitement. Focus on exploration and discovery rather than what can go wrong.
Before we ring in the New Year, practice curiosity by embracing uncertainty. Take risks, ask questions and invest in new interests. Wide-eyed wonder will lead to the growth you’ll need for 2018.
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