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I’m just curious…
Imagine we are in a conversation and I start a sentence in this way. How do you imagine you might react?
Would you really believe that I am curious?
Or would you brace yourself for criticism or some other version of, “Gotcha!”?
Now imagine we are in a conversation and you start a sentence in the same way.
“I’m just curious…” you say and then ask me what you want to ask me.
Are you really curious? Or do you want to correct, insult, criticize or in some other way influence or change me? Are you really curious or do you have an agenda?
Why is any of this important?
Curiosity is a wonderful thing. But when the word ‘curious’ is used to advance an agenda, it’s not really curiosity. It’s not true that you are curious. What is true is that you have an agenda and are attempting to avoid taking responsibility for it.
Many of us had curiosity shut down when we were growing up. To a busy or distracted caregiver, a child’s curiosity is a real inconvenience. Caregivers have power over dependent children and can easily send the wrong message about curiosity.
That wrong message is, “It’s not okay to be curious.”
So, to become curious again, we have to get past the idea that it’s dangerous to be curious. Curiosity is a natural quality that all children have until, for some reason it is suppressed.
Once we get out of the habit of being curious, it’s hard to start again.
But curiosity means connection. Connection to ourselves and connection to others.
If you are interested, you are curious.
So, if you lack experience with curiosity, notice what you are interested in. What is it you would like to understand simply because you are curious?
What are you interested in for no other reason than that you find it interesting. Start there. Then notice what you don’t understand about that interesting thing but would like to.
That’s curiosity. I’m interested. I would like to understand. I’m curious.
What is not curiosity is, I am judging you and think you should change who you are, how you act or speak, how you feel, and what you do. I don’t really want or need to understand. I think I already do. The conclusions I have drawn are my judgments. I will just stick with those. Information that argues with what I’ve already decided is true doesn’t get in. I’m not curious, I’m uncomfortable and I want you to change so I can feel comfortable again.
So, before you use that phrase, “I’m just curious,” please pause and ask yourself, “Am I curious right now or do I have an agenda?”