Curiosity

I woke up thinking that in order to be curious, I must be absolutely, totally, in the present moment. To be real, to have its natural power, curiosity must be utterly innocent, without agenda, in timeless space.

After I had these first thoughts about curiosity, I asked myself if they felt true. I thought about it. I decided that I cannot be truly curious if I am in any way distracted: if I’m anxious about whether you will be willing to hear what I have to say — if I’m determined to make you listen to me — if I feel any time press — if I’m sending any covert message in my question — if I have any agenda about the outcome of our conversation. It doesn’t matter if I’m focused on being afraid you won’t respond as I wish or if I’m anticipating how you will respond. It doesn’t matter if I’m motivated by self-interest, a need to control you, blame you, or manipulate you. Nor does it matter if I’m motivated to “help” you or change you because of my care and worry for you.

I decided I believe it is not possible to be defensive or in power struggle if we are in a state of pure curiosity. When I’m stuck in a power struggle for any of the reasons I named above, it doesn’t work to try to be curious or to tell myself that I should be. But what has worked for me and what I’ve been suggesting to others is to ask hypothetically, “If I were truly curious right now, what would I want to know?” It makes me genuinely start to wonder what I would want to know. It frees me from the vice grip of my defensiveness. My morning thoughts give me a deeper understanding of why this question works so well for me — and by their reports, for others. My conclusion is:

Curiosity is an antidote to power struggle.

40 thoughts on “Curiosity

  1. This is such an interesting reflection on curiosity. I am going to have to digest it for a bit, but at first blush, I think you are right–if we are genuinely curious, we cannot be struggling for power. We also won’t be criticizing, blaming, resenting, or otherwise bringing negative energy to the relationship.

    Glad to have you in Blogger Monday!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    http://www.thereflectivewriter.com
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

    • Thanks, Judy. I didn’t really get the insight about not being able to be in power struggle when we are curious until I worked my way through the ideas. I still have to think about it too!

  2. I’ve had difficulty with curiosity too and for me I think it’s because I’ve had trouble letting go my own agenda. I love the question you ask yourself. It’s perfect for the situation you describe and for mine. So glad I found this post today!

    Susan Berland

  3. Wonderful blog. Being curious keeps in that child like state of wonder. It has no expectations, no gimmicks, just wide eye wonder. I like the idea. Everyone wants to be well received.

    Julieanne Case
    Always from the heart!

    Reconnecting you to your Original Blueprint, Your Essence, Your Joy| Healing you from the Inside Out |Reconnective Healing | The Reconnection| Reconnective Art |

    http://thereconnectivehighway.com

    • Another wonderful word. I love wonder. And having no expectations . . . I wonder how many times otherwise wonderful experience become disappointing when they don’t meet a pre-conceived notion. Your comment about expectations reinforces my belief in how having no expectations allows us to be in the moment in a timeless way.

  4. I love how your blog brings me back to present moment and that in itself engenders a sense of curiosity about how to move out of power struggle. and what an empowering concept, to have something so simple, really, be an antidote to power struggle. I will use your question for myself next time I am hedging and becoming attached to my own agenda.

    • I was excited when I finally thought about how curiosity makes it almost impossible to be in power struggle. I guess getting to the curiosity is the hard part. Once there amazingly “simple” Thanks for that word.

  5. Curiosity is an interesting subject here in this post. I have never considered the purity of curiosity. I think it has been largely overlooked on this pure level.

  6. Hi,

    I agree from an experiential and a neuro-somatic view point. If we are organized somatically in curiosity or opern and in learning mode then by reference we are not in struggle. You have to organize to struggle in your body. In addition, how one perceives then is biased through our body and our conceptual filters to look for that which is a fit/mach with our curiosity or pure learning and fascination.

    Best,

    T

    • Fascinating! I’ve been studying the concepts in Bruce Lipton’s book “The Biology of Belief,” and he presents the idea that we are either protecting (which would fit with having an agenda) or we are open and learning. Both take much energy, but protecting doesn’t create energy and learning does! A good reason why closed people who aren’t curious get stuck in a rut. I hadn’t thought about it in these the terms you used, but it’s great.

  7. To be curious is a graceful act. Graceful in allowing myself to learn something new vs. believing that i already know what is true. There is always more than one way to see things…more than one interpretation.

  8. I love your blog, and the possibility it has for insight. I have always considered myself to be driven by a strong curiosity. I haven’t associated it with being in the now, or an active part, necessarily, of addressing conflict. In working within my collaborative practice, curiosity fuels my insight into what is working, and why, and brings me new options for other ways of dealing with challenges.

    I will be writing an article for our newsletter shortly in which I will unpack some thoughts on what I now call ‘mulling’, that have recently come to me. Clients, some clients, can have an orientation that attorneys (other professionals) just find ways to run up the bill without cause. In a recent case, with a disfuncional client I chose to terminate the representation, he inquired about the statement I had presented to him that included some time for research, with a query like why were you wasting time on something like that. It gave me the opportunity to explain the charge, and why it was important for me to pay attention to it in looking after his best interests.

    I then refered him to an earlier email message, a response to an email to the team by his spouse, that included a question about some real estate issues. In my response, about three days after the first email, I started by saying that I wanted to mull things over before responding. Then I asked him if he knew what that meant. I went on to explain that I thought about the issue while I was driving in my car, and again while I was eating a meal, and later while lying in bed at the end of the day. I told him that is how I carry my responsibility to my clients with me, and how important it is to help me find solultions to their issues. And, I reminded him, he is never billed for my “mulling” time.

    All of this came out of my natural curiosity.

    I love the idea of this blog, and look forward to participating.

    Bruce Peck

    • I agree that staying curious in our work as professionals can transform not only what happens with a client, but also how we real and present we are in our work. Thanks, Bruce.

    • I suspect that a mammal’s level of curiosity is, to start with, part of a biological pleasure in gaining knowledge that can improve survival. There’s a positive feedback loop, hormonally speaking, a jolt of pleasure that adds into increased confidence when facing a new situation that benefits from a skill or knowledge. In addition, curiosity is one of several beneficial practices when applied to everyday human interactions. When I prepare myself (let’s say I pause to consider a subject from another person’s position) I can let loose my curiosity. In complex or problematic situations, when I follow that by asking, “What can I do to help you, here?” Everyone feels better and willing to contribute.

  9. What a great way to approach conversations and make true connections with people. Easier said than done for some people (including me), as I typically like to grant people the same courtesy that I hope to be granted… and that is often to be left alone as I am out running errands.

    • I thought I responded to your comment, but don’t see one. I like to be left alone too when I’m busy . . . so sometimes I don’t have curiosity or want to ask anyone anything! I think that feeling we can have makes us sometimes uncomfortable showing curiosity because we are afraid we’ll bother someone or invade their space. It’s a balance, I think it’s hard to tell sometimes when we might have a spot on intuition that another person would rather be left alone and when we might miss a wonderful connection, even one that lasts a moment or two.

  10. Wow, this was so timely Sharon, thank you for sharing your insight! It really hit me squarely in my solar plexus as my answer to my own power struggles with myself and others. I want to stay in curiosity rather than trying to stay in control with endless power struggles. This conversation will be like a “bell in my head” ringing when I find myself upset with a person or situation. Thanks for rocking my world again!

  11. Hi Sharon,
    I enjoyed reading the blog but the font style is hard to read, as well as gray text rather than black. For those of us over 50, wearing glasses, we need “Powerful Non-Defensive Formatting.” Any chance of that?

    • Yes, I actually like to have things be very readable myself. Maybe we should make the font a little larger. What did you mean about the text being gray rather than black. It looks black on my screen. Are you talking about the part where it says “Leave a reply” or the actual text of the content?

      • Hi Sharon,
        If you look at the top, where there are groupings of words like, “up from the mist,” etc., you will see that they are much blacker than the text of your article. I don’t think it’s because of the different font. It’s more noticeable with the “Leave a Reply,” but I think if checked the text also will not be a full black. A lot of web sites are using gray now, which is unfortunate for older readers. In any case, all the best. I have really enjoyed your material

  12. Sharon, I love your blog! Can’t wait to use your question during my day, and to hear your thoughts in days to come.

  13. So appreciate your post and perspective Sharon. I’ve read it several times now and the concept of being curious rather than agenda-driven is fascinating. I recently became re-aware of how easy it is to react rather than act and even wrote about it in my last blog at http://familyresolutions.us/2012/04/act-dont-react-why-is-it-so-hard/ so this is so very timely for me in my own thinking. Look forward to more wisdom regarding the how. How to remember to first ask the question you suggest so as to remain curious and not be distracted with agendas and power struggles of my own.
    Deborah Bennett Berecz
    familyresolutions.us
    [PS. May I direct people to your blog in mine?]

    • I looked at your website, Deborah, and really love your humor and the courtroom story being in court. I’d be absolutely delighted to have you share my blog. Sometimes I don’t remember to ask that first question either!

    • It does require a child-like quality, doesn’t it. It’s interesting, isn’t it, to have something so powerful as curiosity require that we must be like a child. Profound, really.

  14. I am so glad that you are doing this blog. Taking your workshop long ago opened my mind up to so much. Always wished I could maintain a connection to those insights.

  15. Oh, Carol. It is so good to hear from you! I hope all is well with you. I am excited to start this blog. I think even little reminders and new insights help keep us going; getting stronger in having a “non-defensive presence.

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