If you want to appear intelligent, you rarely have to do all the talking, all you really have to do is ask questions.
If you want to excel in life and your career, getting a personal coach is a great thing to add to your arsenal and give yourself a turbo boost. It gets you out of your comfort zone and helps you really broaden your understanding of what’s possible.
After university, I did a lot of science based personality tests, but the one that really stands out in my memory is the Birkman Method that my personal coach had me take.
It measured a hundred attributes from assertiveness and passivity to humility and confidence, et al.
When my coach reviewed my results with me, he told me he’d never seen results like mine. He’d never seen this as a number one trait.
It was curiosity. Curiosity was 99 on a 100 point scale.
Unfortunately, in a world of me, me, me, it’s getting lost in the mix.
A few weeks ago, my wife and I attended the wedding of some dear friends. We knew maybe 40% of the people at our table, which even for an outgoing guy like me can be a little work in the conversation department once you get past the initial “How do you know the bride and groom?” type questions. But, of course, I went into curiosity mode.
I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who happened to be a former work colleague of the bride’s. I learned he was in the lighting industry, learned about his family, etc.
I kept asking questions of various guests throughout the night, genuinely curious, and learning about all the people there.
But I started to realize that, even thirty minutes into conversation with any given person, I’d learned all about them, but they’d barely asked me a single question about me.
At the end of the evening, although I’d asked hundreds of questions, I doubt I was asked more than ten.
Oddly enough, I’m even fascinated by the lack of curiosity in humans.
But ultimately, it makes me sad.
If you want to appear intelligent, you rarely have to do all the talking, all you really have to do is ask questions. Asking questions has a positive effect on how others perceive you and, the bonus is, you actually become more intelligent because with every answer you receive, you’re learning from other humans’ experiences and knowledge.
The reason people perceive you positively is because it makes them feel good to get to share their story. People so rarely get the opportunity to share, so when you ask, be prepared for a tsunami of words.
There’s a whole discipline and art surrounding how to carefully ask questions in such a way that creates flow and enables conversation.
One tip that helps in those instances is being aware of your mindset when you enter a social setting – your mindset determines what you’re willingness to be curious.
Walk in with an open mind, ready to let your curiosity loose and listen and you’ll be amazed at not only what you learn, but at the bonds you form and the days you’ll brighten.
• What is something you want to accomplish in the next 6 months that you are super excited about?
• If we were to meet again, one year from today, with a bottle of champagne, what would you be celebrating?
• What is a place you want to visit that you’ve been putting off, and why?
• What music title best describes your personality?
• Who is a person, alive or deceased, that you’d love to sit and have a drink with and why?
Stay away from the proverbial, “What do you do for a living?”
Enjoy and Stay Curious