Curious or Complacent?

Blog 2022-07-05 photo

How we view a given situation is shaped by our relationship to it. “Where you stand depends on where you sit.” This phrase – sometimes called “Miles’s Law” – is attributed to Rufus Miles, a 20th century US government official.

Our different experiences explain why different people take away vastly different messages from the exact, same information they all receive.

We often forgo curiosity about others’ perspectives (especially when different) and, instead, believe that a given situation is interpreted the same way by everyone. This reeks of complacency, or “uninformed self-satisfaction” as Merriam-Webster defines it.

Whether or not we make curiosity central to our lives, we can all get caught in this kind of complacency trap.

Here is a three-step approach I have found useful for being more curious with others:

  1. Believe, in advance of each interaction, that every person has something extremely insightful to say.
  2. Demonstrate that belief by figuratively wrapping each of your interactions in “blanket of respect;” look people in the eyes, listen deeply to them, and then pause before responding.
  3. Assess the values you heard inherent in their words and confirm or acknowledge those.

Far more often than curiosity killing the cat, the practice of leadership curiosity breathes life into trust and relationships. 

This Week’s Challenge: Try the above three steps in an upcoming interaction. This can be especially powerful where you haven’t been, or know you might not be, as curious as you want. Notice how the relationship dynamics shift as a result.

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  1. Doug Brady on July 13, 2022 at 10:13 am

    Very good point and tough challenge Jen.
    Thanks for sharing.

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