Curiosity in egonomics

By nature, most of us are curious. However, the kind that most of us have is the “state” type of curiosity.  This is the type which still has to be triggered. A clear example of state curiosity can be observed when there’s some car wreck and you’ve got nosy passers-by and kibitzers gathering around. The other– more desirable — type of curiosity is the “trait” type.  As opposed to state, this one doesn’t need to be triggered. It doesn’t wait to be sparked, instead “it does the sparking”.

Trait curiosity requires a balance of openness and of order:

  • Openness: being open to new ideas; being open to the possibility that you are wrong and that you have much to learn; being willing to accept change
  • Order: resisting being too carefree or impulsive; exercising precaution when considering changes; allows you to focus your energies instead of getting caught up in one idea too many

Sometimes in our haste to reach a resolution, we fail to become curious. We satisfice, we jump to conclusions, we stop asking questions. Now, simply asking questions doesn’t mean we’re already curious. But it’s a start. And if nurtured, perhaps we can develop trait curiosity.

Here are four ways to raise the level of curiosity even in daily conversation:

  1. What do we mean? (clarity) Don’t assume that you’re already clear about what someone means. Clarify! Learn to seek out details.
  2. What are we seeing? (context) Get some background info. Identify the givens and the unknowns. Get the rationale behind a given point or idea.
  3. What are we assuming? (assumptions) Test your assumptions. See if you’re assumptions are sound or totally unfounded. Do a reality check.
  4. What does that lead to? (consequences) Ask what happens if… Identify the expected end result. Understand the motive behind the desired effect.

Collecting quotes (20090124)

Genuine ignorance is profitable because it is likely to be accompanied by humility, curiosity, and open mindedness; whereas ability to repeat catch phrases, cant terms, familiar propositions, gives the conceit of learning and coats the mind with varnish, waterproof to new ideas.
John Dewey

The danger in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.
George Bernard Shaw