When you ask too many questions, people wonder what you’re after. The need to preserve image makes curiosity uncomfortable.
Sincere curiosity is a gift to all but the insecure, skeptical, or status driven.
Too many questions:
1. The insecure feel threatened.
2. The skeptical wonder what you’re after.
3. The status driven fear looking bad.
Everyone has insecurities, skepticism, and fear of looking bad. No one aspires to look foolish.
Build trust before too much curiosity:
1. Answer insecurity with transparency and affirmation. Share your story early in the conversation. Affirm theirs.
2. Answer skepticism by sharing motives and values.
3. Answer people’s fear of losing status by:
- Avoiding leading questions.
- Giving affirmation after they give answers.
- Not asking questions that you already know the answer to. (Unless you tell them up front you want their perspective.)
- Giving feedback in between questions. Open up to others more than you expect others to open up to you.
Answer fear with vulnerability. Strength and courage open up. Others wonder what you’re after. Tell them upfront, before curiosity becomes offensive.
If you don’t care, curiosity is an offense. Distrustful environments don’t trust curiosity. But, when people believe you have their best interests at heart, curiosity strengthens connection.
What’s your story?
What are you proud of?
What challenges are you facing?
Follow curiosity with affirmation. Affirm more than analyze. No one enjoys being under a microscope. People close down when they feel judged. Invite them to analyze their own answers. Curiosity strengthens connection unless it goes too far.
How might leaders use curiosity as a tool to connect?
When does curiosity create barriers?