Curiosity is a driving force for personal growth and a powerful tool for building and strengthening relationships. When we approach others with genuine curiosity, we open ourselves to new perspectives, experiences, and opportunities for connection. Curiosity can help us deepen our understanding of others, foster empathy, and promote trust and intimacy in our relationships. In this blog post, we will explore the power of curiosity in relationships and discuss how curiosity can help us navigate conflicts, enhance communication, and create meaningful connections with those around us.
I was often overlooked as someone who grew up in a household with one emotionally absent parent and another who was abusive. As I have learned, the consequence of this kind of upbringing is that we are left feeling unseen and insignificant, which follows us well into adulthood if left unchecked.
If you also grew up feeling unnoticed, my guess is that the family unit also normalized sweeping things under the rug and not dealing with big events in an appropriate manner. Therefore, when things aren’t discussed, we learn that having feelings really doesn’t matter. Nobody asks, so we don’t share.
As a consequence, one of the coping mechanisms many fall victim to is becoming the caretaker for everyone else. This person might always be doing for others, even at the expense of their own well-being. They rarely speak up when they’re “at capacity” and find their worth in doing for others.
On the surface, this can look like an honorable way of being, even exemplary, because they are always praised for being so kind and generous. But the dark side of this seemingly benign trait is that this is the aftermath of not receiving the love and attention they so badly craved. They are compensating, and their worth lies in the service of others while ignoring and even denying their own needs and desires.
I speak from experience here because this used to be me too. Nobody actually knew who I was, what I was going through, or what food I liked, and I wore it like a badge of honor…until I completely lost sight of who I even was.
When I finally started the process of healing, and I slowly began learning about who I even was and opening up to people, I realized how good it felt when someone got curious about me.
Weirdly enough, pregnancy taught me how to share parts of who I was and got me to discover what I actually wanted. Ask any pregnant woman about her birth plan, and she can tell you everything you wanted to know (plus the details you absolutely didn’t want to hear about). I was so excited about this new chapter in my life that pregnancy was actually the point at which I began to step out from behind the shadow.
I started to love when people would ask me questions.
“How far along are you?”
“Have you thought of any names yet?”
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
To me, it was the equivalent of someone saying, “Hey, I see you, and I want to know more about you.”
And it felt so freaking good to be seen.
Curiosity Can Create Meaningful Connections & Enhance Communication
I think curiosity is one of the secrets to having deep, meaningful relationships.
Curiosity can enhance communication skills because curiosity promotes active listening, open-mindedness, and rapport building. Being curious allows us to explore new ideas we would have never considered. It encourages a more engaging and meaningful conversation that can lead to greater understanding and connection between individuals.
I honestly don’t think there is a greater compliment than when someone asks me about my life. A question that stems from a desire to get to know someone shows genuine interest and creates space for empathy and trust to build. The one thing all great relationships have in common is that they all have a foundation of empathy and trust.
So many people talk about the importance of empathy, but few talk about how to begin to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; we have to understand life through their eyes first. This can only happen when we approach conversations with curiosity. If we can’t get curious about someone’s perspective or opinion, we don’t actually understand empathy.
Curiosity in Times of Conflict
We might not always agree with other people. In fact, it is likely that we will disagree with many people, opinions, and perspectives throughout our lifetime. And that’s ok. What’s not ok is when our disagreeing creates a judgment of others.
And let’s be honest here; this can be hard to do. I’m by no means professing this doesn’t take effort. But what I have found is that when I have the inclination to judge someone, the more curious I get about their situation, the easier it is to understand life as they know it to be true. (More on that here)
I ask questions. And then I ask more questions. The process of asking questions helps me to truly understand why they believe what they believe or why they acted the way they acted, and in the end, it helps me understand them better. When we understand people, it is much more difficult to judge them.
In a world where we are constantly bombarded with distractions, cultivating curiosity can be a powerful tool to enhance communication and build meaningful connections with others. When we approach conversations with an open and curious mind, we are more likely to actively listen, engage in meaningful dialogue, and build rapport with the person we are speaking with.
Moreover, curiosity can be a great motivator for personal growth and self-discovery. By asking questions and seeking new information, we can expand our understanding of the world and ourselves and discover new passions and interests that we never knew existed.
In times of conflict, curiosity can also be an effective way to promote understanding and prevent judgment. By taking the time to understand someone’s perspective, we can build empathy and find common ground, even if we do not necessarily agree with their views.
In short, cultivating curiosity can have far-reaching benefits in helping others to feel seen. As someone who has struggled with feeling insignificant for much of my life, I feel that the more we approach conversations with curiosity, the better connections we can have. And as a consequence, less loneliness.