I believe people are curious by nature. Yet, something happens to us in today’s highly charged workplace that dampens that instinct.
Consider your morning elevator ride. Heads down looking at devices instead of – dare I say – speaking to each other. We’re so busy posting, responding and liking that we forget to engage the world around us.
I’ve heard people say, “we’re too busy to be curious; we have too much to do.” Yet, to me, showing up differently requires a new mindset. Curiosity at its core allows us to find the very questions we should be asking and exploring to evolve our businesses.
So, how can we create a movement towards everyday curiosity in the workplace?
- It starts with you. Look at yourself and become a role model. During my walk to work, I no longer look down at two devices. Now, I look up. That same route I have travelled for more than four years yields new sights and sounds each day, and I enter the office refreshed, ready to take on new challenges in new ways.
- Change the typical brainstorm. Ask participants to explore an elusively related topic, instead of overloading them with pre-reading. Try conducting these sessions outside office walls. You’ll up the quality of ideation and collaboration.
- Be curious for curiosity’s sake. At Edelman, we’ve been conducting what I call “curiosity outings.” The task is simple: Go outside for 40 minutes and be curious. Of course, I’ve received lots of puzzled looks. Yet people return with smiles and energy. They saw things they usually ignored. They talked with strangers, and with each other. They developed a bolder and more collaborative working style.
- Find inspiration near and far. Opt for a foreign film the next time you choose a movie to watch. For internal speaking series, bring in people totally unrelated to your work. Read newspapers from foreign capitals and local neighborhoods (don’t be afraid to get some ink on your fingers, either!).
- Think before you search. There’s a difference between search and curiosity: With search, you are looking for the answers (and many simply want to confirm their POV). But curiosity allows you to first find the right questions. Don’t be afraid to ask “what if?” and question the parameters of any situation, before searching for solutions.
What simple acts of curiosity will you commit to doing for yourself and your workplace in 2014?
Howard Pulchin is Co-Founder of Edelman’s Strategic + Creative Guild and is based in New York.