November 05, 2014

The Beauty of Asking Questions

I’ve always been good at asking questions. I would ask even awkward and embarrassing questions because my desire to know why trumped my fear of sounding silly. I needed to know!

Most of the time I was the quiet observer taking it all in, and way too self-conscious for my own good. Asking questions was the one place in the classroom where I spoke up and owned my presence.

A few months ago as I was interviewing for Ei, the beauty of asking questions made itself known in a big way. I’ve had a sincere appreciation for being curious my whole life. Curiosity allowed me to jump into new situations when I didn’t know how to participate. The focus wasn’t on me when I was doing the asking. But during the interview, as I imagined approaching professionals loaded with experience and esteem, I felt as though someone had focused glaring interrogation lights down on me. What could I bring to the table? How could I be valuable? Who did I think I was? The breath caught in my throat. I froze.

“You’re a researcher first,” Victor said. “You simply start by asking questions, listening closely and sharing stories.” I breathed out slowly and my muscles let go of the tension. I know how to do that. And then I remembered the easy flow created by genuine curiosity – the movement outward to engage and connect.

Albert Einstein said it beautifully: “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Although I still let anxiety tangle me up and feel my strengths and skills may be inadequate, I know I can leave dread at the door. With curiosity guiding the way, I move onward seeking to understand. This is how I can be helpful. By asking meaningful questions, I can see through their eyes and come to recognize what they need. If I want to jump into a new company, I have to be curious. And in those moments when the energy turns in, I can pull myself out with a question.

With a year rooted in questions, it’s all about curiosity. It’s about engagement and connection.

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