Curiosity in Others – the science and value

One fundamental key to the ongoing success of a team can be value they hold for and interest they have in each other’s worlds (within and outside of work). For us, this interest in others wraps around our approach to being ‘highly effective team’ – we call it ‘Curiosity

Curious George can teach us a thing or two!

Curiosity is such an important element within the make up of positive team development.  Dr Lily FitzGibbon of the Motivation Science Lab at the University of Reading has been exploring such questions as – how curiosity and the feeling of ‘wanting to know more’ drives behaviour

Research has shown that when we realise that there are gaps in our knowledge (of people, places, process etc) we feel curious and are motivated to seek out information or guidance to fill the gap. Often knowing a little of something can lead us to feel curious and with this it reveals what more there is to learn.

During functional MRI scans of the brain Astrophysicist Mario Livio (author of – “Why? What Makes Us Curious”) noted that we exhibit two forms of curiosity which show up in different parts of the brain, these being:

Perceptual curiosity – “This is what we feel when we see something that surprises or puzzles us or doesn’t match up with something we thought we knew”.

Epistemic curiosity – “This is our love of knowledge, our desire to learn new things. Our brain and our mind assigns value to this knowledge, so this is usually experienced as a pleasurable thing, with an anticipation of reward in the form of what we learn,”.

However our interest in things, people, systems, processes diminishes over time…WHY?

Knowing enough and the demise of curiosity

Part of this demise over time is related to the switch we seem to undergo as we begin to know enough to do our jobs. This is a switch from ‘perceptual curiosity’ – which comes with a willingness to take risks and an interest in many things (exploration), toward ‘epistemic curiosity’ a love for knowledge but perhaps in a more narrow field, where risk (and novelty) is reduced.

It seems curiosity is an evolutionary purpose, whilst we are innately curious to ensure we survive perhaps once we have learnt enough to do so (within the work place) our desire to continually reach out and broaden our understanding diminishes for fear of getting things wrong.

Curiosity in sport

“Having curiosity is keeping our desire to learn alive” Jorge Valdano

In his book “The 11 powers of the leader”, former Real Madrid player and coach Jorge Valdano identifies the following as key in sport and business – Creativity, hope, passion, style, words, curiosity, humility, talent, costumes, simplicity and success

Valdano says “curiosity helps us to continuously improve and it is also the only way to keep ourselves connected to the world and to better adapt to our fast-changing environment”


The value of interest in others

The primary benefits of practicing curiosity and an authentic interest in others are:

  • You make others feel heard and valued
  • Relationships deepen and trust builds
  • There is an increased likelihood of creating connections that serve personal and business goals

We all want to be appreciated (feel loved in a metaphorical sense). We all want to feel of value to work and to the people around us. We will often feel something positive if complimented. Therefore there is a real importance in showing/having interest in others. Some simple actions you may take to generate the feeling of value are:

  • Create space and opportunity for people to talk about themselves (work, home and leisure)
  • Use the names of those you work with, we like to know we have been remembered
  • Pay compliments when they are deserved, be authentic and open with them
  • Express your appreciation for someone when people offer you or the business value
  • Ask a favour, people like to know they can help, this builds trust

Paying attention and being curious with those you work with is probably the number one contributor to the growth of trust. Build connections based on true interest, make people ‘FEEL’ connected to you and the organisation, ask questions others want to answer


Curiosity and YOU

Curiosity will help us survive – its an evolutionary thing, as our context requires it we seek out new experiences, people, conversations which allow us to adapt and respond positively

Those whom are more curious tend to be happier – it has been documented that higher levels of positive emotions and lower levels of anxiety are connected with the satisfaction we gain from learning

Achievement is known to be higher in those that are curious – seems obvious but the greater engagement with learning and getting to know others the greater our achievements

Relationships that have an invested curiosity are stronger – your social world will grow and become richer as you build relationships with others based on innate curiosity in the worlds of others


There is a personal and business advantage to getting to know your team beyond the job they do and how they may serve you. Be curious about their family, career path, personal values, backgrounds, interests and their uniqueness. This is a gift that costs you only your time and could pay back more than you invest

Who and what will you be curious about today?



by Kurt Lindley