cartoon-king-5Last week I wrote about listening. I mentioned three categories of listening and how natural curiosity generates the best listening.
There is one simple word that can help you create curiosity—for yourself and those around you.
Talk show host Larry King retired in 2010 after 25 years and 6,120 episodes. On the final show, Fred Armisen turned the tables on King and started asking “himself” questions. Apart from being a funny exchange, King offers an insightful answer when asked, “What question have I asked more than any over the years?” King’s reply was, “Why?” He explains, “Why is the best question of all because it can’t be answered in one word and it forces the person to think.”
I would submit that little, three-letter word is the king of curiosity. Ken Coleman, author of One Question, uses the phrase “habit of inquiry” to shed light on the need for more curiosity. He says by the time a child reaches the 8th grade the average number of questions asked on a given day is two or three. Little kids are notorious for asking why. Life quickly squeezes the curiosity out of us all. Intentionality is necessary to maintain this habit of inquiry. Without it, a person becomes the equivalent of listening zombies: conversationally brain-dead, replying in grunts.
Simon Sinek in his book Start With Why proposes the most important question to ask is why because of the fundamental need it meets. People want to understand and be understood. Asking why meets that need. Companies that are not afraid of why create deeper loyalty with customers and employees, Sinek says, because it reveals core motivation. I think relationships in general become closer and stronger when that small word is allowed to enter the conversation. It creates dialogue, because like Larry King said, it can’t be answered in one word and it requires thought.
Crown yourself king of curiosity in your next conversation by asking why.
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