When you think about important things in a relationship, you probably think of trust, good communication, conflict resolution, support, respect etc. But, one thing that’s often overlooked, but should be included in that list, is genuine curiosity. 

If you’re looking to improve your relationships – be it at work, with friends, or a partner – staying curious and taking a genuine interest in people is important. 

The Lost Art of Curiosity and Taking a Genuine Interest

In terms of improving relationships, there’s one very simple skill, action and behaviour that we often seem to neglect: Curiosity. 

Curiosity – taking a genuine interest in people and in the conversations that you're having with them – is actually crucial to building and improving relationships. 

Unfortunately, though, it seems like people are getting less and less curious about others these days. 

So, how do you stay curious? Here are some ways to be more curious in your relationships:

  • Ask and engage them through questions.  Lately, I’ve noticed this lack of ability in a lot of us to take a genuine interest, or at least showcase a genuine interest, in others by asking them questions and engaging them through questions. And this is how we build effective, trustworthy, and mutually beneficial relationships – by taking an interest in other people by asking them questions about their life, how they are, and then ultimately, remembering that information that they share with us and the space that we hold for them, and then being able to follow it up. 

So, the next time you’re talking to someone, ask and engage them through questions. 

  • Keep the conversations a two-way street. In addition to the first point, ask yourself: Are your conversations with people a two-way? Or, are those conversations a lot about that person listening to you talk (or vice versa)? Remember: At the core of every relationship, real ones anyway, is that they are two-way streets – you’re interested in me, and I'm interested in you.
  • Create space for the people you care about. Create space for the people you care about – really take the time to listen to them and what they have to say. Try to remove assumptions or judgements about what they meant to say, or the situation they are in, and instead ask. 

Questions to Ask Yourself 

If you want to improve your relationships, which I'm sure we all do, I really invite you to take a step back and be honest with yourself about the relationships that you have – whether they’re personal relationships with your friends or your family, or your working relationships with your manager, your team, or your peers. Ask yourself:

  • When was the last time that I really took an interest in that person? 
  • How is that person doing, really? Do I know?
  • What do I actually know about that person vs. what do they know about me?
  • What’s happening in their world? 
  • Did I spend an entire conversation with that person just talking about myself?
  • Am I usually in one-way conversations? Or are my conversations mutually beneficial? 
  • What do I know about that person and their view/perspective on things? 

The Bottom Line

Real relationships take work. But at our core, all human beings want to feel heard, seen, noticed and valued. A critical way that we do that is by engaging genuinely with people. Asking questions. Playing back what we’ve heard. Showing we are engaged through our body language. And, most importantly, being curious.  Set yourself the challenge this week - who can you be more curious about? 

P.s If you, or your organisation want to expand the conversation on building effective relationships, then reach out to me. One of my high energy, practical workshops could be the perfect thing for you and your team! Check me out HERE!