Think of the word ‘curiosity’, and your brain might follow it up with “…kills the cat.” It’s an age-old idiom that warns us against cultivating a mind that seeks more than it already knows. But, given that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us, curiosity is being looked at as a skill.
What is curiosity? A state of active interest or genuinely wanting to know more about something, that allows you to embrace the unknown, giving you a greater opportunity to experience discovery and joy.
Sounds like something you’d enjoy practicing more, right? If you need a little nudge, here is some research on how curiosity can actually help advance your career:
- It helps you connect with others. According to a study, people felt closer, more intimate, with those who showed interest in them, and asked more personal questions. Todd Kasgan, psychologist, says, “Being interested is more important in cultivating a relationship and maintaining a relationship than being interesting.” More curious participants also reported less aggression towards those who caused hurt feelings.
What does this mean for you? Curiosity also lends itself to reading people better. Thus, it enables you to build work environments that are inclusive and collaborative. You will have a deeper idea of the strengths and needs of your team, and hence engage them better.
- It helps you learn faster. Sounds pretty obvious. But there’s more to it. In a 2014 study, participants received a set of questions and answers to learn. It was seen that when participants’ interest was piqued by a question, their brain released more dopamine on learning the answer. Later, on being tested for retention, curious people retained a higher percentage of knowledge. Even if the information was boring or mundane! Dopamine is also related to motivation.
What does this mean for you? Switching up your routine, blending creative projects with your regular tasks, learning a new tool, or just taking a break – all this have the potential to spark your curiosity. And that in turn increases your learning agility, and keeps you motivated at work.
- It helps deal with complexity. Curiosity is considered a key skill, when it comes to problem solving and decision making. And, when someone’s curiosity quotient is high, it is easier to deal with complex details, without getting overwhelmed. They are able to take action, even if it does not yield results instantly. And this helps them perform better at tasks.
What does this mean for you? With business growth comes a series of decisions which quickly add up – revenue, people, markets, diversity, innovation etc. With curiosity, you have the ingredients to tackle deeper questions and challenges. Just by asking questions and sitting with ambiguity.
Curiosity can fuel your success. In a fast moving, diverse world, if you want to fit in and keep up, you can’t not be curious.