The Power of Questions: How Curiosity Can Foster Connection and Understanding
I’m excited to share a guest blog from a positivity expert I recently discovered, Robyn Stratton-Berkessel. When I saw this post from her on the power of being curious about others and how it can foster connection, I asked her permission to share it with all of you. Now more than ever, our families, communities, and the world need greater understanding and connection. Enjoy!
How curious are you about others and the world? What information and stories might you seek? Inquiry starts movements. Inquiry questions keep us open to possibilities and enable us to engage in further dialogue. Inquiry helps us to discover the stories of others in potentially heartfelt ways. Inquiry stimulates curiosity.
In his 2017 book, The Curiosity Gene, On the Origin of Humankind by Means of Intrinsic Motivation, science writer Alexandros Kourt posits that inquisitiveness is responsible not only for human survival but also for our evolution into the most intelligent creature on earth. He believes curiosity holds the key to happiness and personal fulfillment.
Writer Elizabeth Gilbert, author of seven books, including Eat Pray Love, her most well-known book, and Big Magic, her most recent, brings the idea even closer:
“I want to live in a society filled with people who are curious and concerned about each other rather than afraid of each other. So taking this virtue of investigation, that gentle friend of curiosity, as something that we can live by would be good for us collectively.”
When we invite inquiry, and consciously construct inquiry questions it enables us to connect with others and to collect stories, information, intelligence, and even good will, something never to be underestimated.
Inquiry is such a pivotal life literacy that we remember those people who are good at asking questions. They show interest in us and ask us thought-provoking, story making questions that move conversations past pleasantries.
We remember high school teachers, bosses and friends whose generative questions were life-giving and life-changing for us—they helped us develop insights into something important for us.
Neuroscience tells us we need to discover our own insights. We learn better, not when someone tells us something, but when conversation or reflection shows us something so that we see newly and make choices based on our new perceptions. People support what they themselves create.
- Start meetings and family meals with a generative question, like Robyn’s question to cab drivers: What’s the best thing that happened….? To see this in action, watch Robyns’ TEDX talk, Playful Inquiry.
- When problems are framed in a deficit way, invite inquiry about how the situation can be reframed toward solutions (the literacy in our next episode.)
- Before you answer a question or start giving your opinion about something, consider asking a new question to help the questioner think more deeply.
This is an abbreviated version of the complete post and podcast, Inviting Inquiry Questions: A Core Choice for Appreciative Voice
Robyn Stratton-Berkessel is a positivity strategist and Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner. who enables people, whoever they are, to elevate and amplify their own positivity and the collective capacity in their organizations and communities, so that everyone feels empowered as co-creators of their own futures. Learn more at http://positivitystrategist.com