“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” - Roy T. Bennett
Many a times we tend to tell our story more than listening to what others have to say to us. We want to sound good, look good in another's eye, as if we are competing to prove who is better and in that space we tend to forget the very intent of having the conversation in the first place. As as result of this what happens? We don't connect with another person, neither do we create any impact in their nor our lives. I have often been told that while I am in conversation with another person, I make them feel comfortable; comfortable to that extent that they share some of the deepest secrets with me that they had never shared with another person. This makes me happy, but at the same time I used to wonder what did I do differently to enable that! I didn't apply any technique/tool, then what?! When they asked me as to how I did that, I had no answer because I actually didn't do anything consciously, neither tried to project something on to them. All I did was listened deeply, got really curious about the person & what he/she had to say. Undoubtedly, I am a very curious person and I just go with the flow out of that curiosity. I forget everything at that moment and just allow my curious mind to take the lead. I let them say that they always wanted to say but were too intimated by other's clever words that they just shunned themselves away. Well, here the point that I am making is not about me but about deep listening, about understanding another from their perspective, about accepting & respecting another as they are, creating a safe space for them to share & be comfortable and to do this, all you need is genuine curiosity.
Curiosity is caring in action! You can get curious only when the focus is not you but the person in front of you; when he/she is more important than yourself at that moment and that comes only out of sheer care for the person. And how has that curiosity helped me & the person?! It helped me save lives of people, transform people's perspective for good, helped them find solutions to their problems, helped them take off burdens that they had been carrying all throughout their lives. By this simple way, I have helped individuals who wanted to end their lives not give up but see for possibility amidst adversity; not give up on their dreams but believe in their innate gifts & uncertainty to be able to make it come true; people into addiction recover & give up addiction to be able to replace that with something not to numb their pain but feel it to let it out; have helped people to grieve, let out their emotions & not be left alone; the list is long. In fact, I acknowledge myself for today instilling hope in a person who wanted to end the life out of sheer distress and loss of hope in possibilities & self. And yes, that's a huge difference that I could have made to them. They say that and that makes a difference to me. The light that I see in their eyes, the spark in their voice, the shift in their being after the conversation is what gives me immense pleasure of having made an impact, a difference. Imagine what will happen when you simply get curious?! I hear from a lot of professionals/individuals who are leading teams, building teams, wanting to form deep connections, wanting to create long lasting relationships both personally & professionally but with failed attempts. My invitation to them is to ask one question to oneself: How curious you are?
As I dug deeper, I found that beneath that curiosity was the genuine care & compassion for the person. As I got curious, I also brought empathy & care along with that curiosity. I wasn't just collecting random data to create something out of that but caring for the person in front of me, who to me had so much to share & speak. Compassion doesn't come from having experienced someone's life experience but through imagination. When you use your mind to creatively think what they must have gone through, you are filled with compassion & love. So, to me to form deeper connections you need the 3 Cs: Curiosity, Care & Compassion. The more time you spend in questions starting with "what and why", you will figure out the answers to "how". And only with curiosity you can uncover the "whats & whys". The answers to "hows" is a by-product of how well you spent your time figuring out the "whats & whys". Last but not the least, it is important to get curious without attachment. Because if you are in it, you can't see the perspective outside of it but similar to what the person is saying & that won't make much of a difference because then you are putting back the person to the same box that he/she is in. And if you are wondering what box I am talking about, do feel free to read my previous blog to get more insights into that.
I am curious to know what's coming up for you at this moment after going through this blog. Can't stop myself & my curiosity! Get curious!
Believing in you,
Coach to People Leaders, Start-up Founders & Transitioning professionals