Curiosity may kill the cat but not the child, nor the adult

I have an eight-year-old Bombay cat. Besides being a bundle of joy, it her curiosity that really has me enthralled. I open a courier packet, and she is there to see what is inside it. If the courier packet is in a box, she wants to climb into it immediately. When the water filter guy comes home for service, the cat is all around sniffing his backpack and trying to force herself into it.

It is a cat’s nature to explore and be curious. It is what sets them apart from many other pets. They never get tired of it!

Now think of a young child. The curiosity and the urge to explore is almost similar. They will crawl to places where you don’t want them to go. They will sniff shoes, pick up things from the floor, go near the fire, try to jump in the water…it is the child’s innocence and constant curiosity that makes them so adorable and fun to be with!

Question is – what happens to this curiosity as we become adults? People stop asking questions! They fear that if they display curiosity they may be read wrongly. Or thought of as being judgmental. Or perhaps they want to stay with their own stories, their own narratives and believe what they know is the absolute truth.

Adults also assume that asking question turns the attention on them. Who wants to end up looking foolish or unsure or ignorant by asking questions? Or maybe we just learn to accept things as they are.

The media is one of the most critical stakeholders for a communicator. Ever thought of how they get their information and stories done? By asking questions! By being curious about everything! Have you ever come across a journalist who has never asked any questions? They wouldn’t be journalist then!

For those who are not in the profession of asking, not questioning is akin to not being curious. It is possible that we have all the information now available on the internet and search engines. So, the need to ask another human being has lessened. We would rather find out our answers on our own than reach for support from a fellow colleague. This may result in minimal social contact and almost no exchange of free flow ideas and diverse opinions. And that is when our learning and growth stops.

Benefits of asking questions

If you were to keep your judgmental thoughts away as to what others would think if you asked questions, you would be surprised at the benefits that accrue.

# Curious people expand their knowledge and mind by soaking in new information. They also come across as interesting people to get to know because of their quest to reach out to strangers and ask questions.

# People who do not shy away from being curious have learnt to put their ego aside. They feel no shame in acknowledging that they don’t know something or don’t have answers for many things. They allow their vulnerability to shine.

# When you accept that you don’t know much, you will seek out people who know more about a particular topic or subject than you. You would be more open to have people in your team who would complement you with skills and competencies in areas you are not proficient with.

By cultivating an organisational culture of curiosity, a company can fuel creativity and innovation. A questioning culture can thereby encourage employee engagement and retention.

Give me a curious person anytime than one who does not ask any questions!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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