The Curiosity Factor…
“Why?” When my son was around the age of five years old, he seemed to have an amazing and uncanny timing for choosing when to be curious. Invariably, after a long day at work, or, after a long travel stint, he would greet me with an abundance of questioning. “Why is the sky blue?” “Why is there thunder and lightning?” “Why do dogs die?” “Why did people fly planes into buildings?”. Little did I know at the time, just how comprehensively attractive and beneficial it is to be curious.
Indeed, for children and adults alike, curiosity has been linked with psychological, emotional, social, and even health benefits. Below I have identified six of the more prominent benefits (source: Greater Good in Action, Science Based Practices for a Meaningful Life, Six Surprising Benefits of Curiosity, Campbell (2015)):
1). Curiosity helps us survive. The urge to explore and find novelty helps us remain vigilant and gain knowledge about our constantly changing environment, which may be why our brains evolved to release dopamine and other feel-good chemicals when we encounter new things.
2). Curious people are happier. Research has shown curiosity to be associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, more satisfaction with life, and greater psychological well-being.
3). Curiosity boosts achievement. Studies reveal that curiosity leads to more enjoyment and participation in school and higher academic achievement, as well as greater learning, engagement, and performance at work. It may seem like common sense, but when we are more curious about and interested in what we are doing, it’s easier to get involved, put effort in, and do well.
4). Curiosity can expand our empathy. When we are curious about others and talk to people outside our usual social circle, we become better able to understand those with lives, experiences, and worldviews different than our own. Next time you have the chance to talk with a stranger, especially someone who may be quite dissimilar to you, try engaging with them on a personal level (respectfully, of course) and showing them that you are interested in what they have to say.
5). Curiosity helps strengthen relationships. One study asked strangers to pose and answer personal questions, a process scientists call “reciprocal self-disclosure.” They found that people were rated as warmer and more attractive if they showed real curiosity in the exchange (while other variables like the person’s social anxiety and their levels of positive and negative emotions did not affect the partner’s feelings of attraction and closeness). This implies that demonstrating curiosity towards someone is a great way to build your closeness with them.
6). Curiosity improves healthcare. Research suggests that when doctors are genuinely curious about their patients’ perspectives, both doctors and patients report less anger and frustration and make better decisions, ultimately increasing the effectiveness of treatment.
At Bristol, we have made an intentional effort to source talent that possesses strong doses of curiosity, particularly as it relates to being curious about others! While we certainly honor and heavily invest in creativity and innovation, we remain firmly rooted in our relational philosophy of Connect versus Control®. Time and again, our success can be directly linked to the strength and vibrancy of the many relationships we create and maintain. In large part, be it corporate clients, fellow associates, or, our network of world-class supplier-partners, our sincere interest in others is what fortifies those relationships and transforms them from being merely tactical and distant, to highly strategic and intimate.
We hear often of the virtues associated with “seeing things through the eyes of a child.” What is it about children and their perspective that we adults find attractive? It’s safe to say that life, for all its’ wonders, can at times dull our sense of curiosity. At the same time and as noted above, it would be equally safe to suggest that life is best enjoyed in those moments when we are open to discovery. When we sincerely embrace, with little to no inhibition, or, preconceived notions, the process of learning, we open up possibilities for personal growth and enrichment— we become better. And while so much of the world attempts to push us all into distinct social categories, there can be tremendous thrill, intense emotion and remarkable collaborative achievement when deciding to be curious about other people!
My son’s curiosity is the type of life orientation I seek to carry with me for as long as I am breathing. I hope that I am and remain a “nudge,” as I continue to ask “Why?”.
If you are curious to learn more about Bristol, or, me for that matter, never hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Who knows, I just might return a curious “Why?” your way!
All the best always,
Reference: Campbell, E. (2015, September 24). Meaningful Life, Six Surprising Benefits of Curiosity. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/six_surprising_benefits_of_curiosity