Curious Communication

Do you care about your people?  Unknowingly, leaders telegraph how much they care by the level of curiosity they demonstrate in their communication with the people on their teams.  Curious leaders ask great questions instead of steal conversations and one up people, however, what drives leadership curiosity is to simply care.

Learn with us some insights from a recent casual lunch time conversation with a leader and their team, and a team member made the comment “my daughter is twenty-four years old, out of college, and has a good job.  I told her that she has to start paying her own car insurance”.  The leader responded with a “I’ve always paid my own insurance.  My parents never helped me with anything”.  In this exact moment, the leader revealed who they care about most by the response they gave.  Instead of asking questions about the struggles of a direct report, they stole the conversation by responding with their own situation.  They didn’t take the opportunity to be curious and ask some good questions, and they weren’t curious because they didn’t care in that moment.  The consequences, a missed opportunity to develop trust and respect.

Curious communication demonstrates leaders care, and it is one of the simplest thing’s leaders can do to build trust and respect on their teams. But they have to want to know the answer to a question to even think about asking a question.  Instead of steal the conversation, this leader could have asked:

  • How did your daughter respond?
  • What were the struggles with your decision?
  • What drove your decision to have your daughter pick up her own bills?
  • What is your spouse’s position on it?

Leaders are never short of a question when they care because caring drives curiosity.  Leaders who are curious convey to people that my boss is interested in me, they care about me, they want for my life to be better or they wouldn’t have asked.  Even more responsibly, curious communication doesn’t require a two day off site seminar.  Curious communication has huge payoffs for the effort because it doesn’t consume vast amounts of time.  The only ingredient required is care.

I’m curious, any questions?