Be Curious (Issue 1123)

In which we are reminded, when speaking with clients and prospects, to think through the lens of curiosity rather than judgment.

A friend has just finished watching the final season of “Ted Lasso”. My wife and I had watched the three seasons as they came out. The series ended well, I thought, on a high note, so I asked him, “Do you feel warm and fuzzy now?”  His response was, “You bet. It was a mental health exercise.”  Agreed. The series ended well for the characters and Ted’s optimism and passion for telling mind-twisting stories that eventually got to the point were a strong boost.

An underlying “good vs. evil” theme played out in many ways. One of the most memorable (and subtly acted and emotional)  of which was “the darts game”.  (Season 1, Episode 5…. Click here or search “Ted Lasso Darts Game” on YouTube AND… if you prefer not to hear four-letter salty language, probably best not to watch].  The “good guys”, represented by Ted, are playing the “bad guys” represented by Rupert, Ted’s boss’s nasty former husband.

During the game, Ted tells a story about driving his son to school and seeing a sign on a wall, a poet Walt Whitman quote. “Be curious. Not judgmental.” In part, the story is:

“You know Rupert, guys have underestimated me my entire life. And for years I never understood why. It used to really bother me. But then one day I was driving my little boy to school and I saw this quote from Walt Whitman painted on the wall there that said, “Be curious. Not Judgmental.” I liked that.

So, I get back in my car and I’m driving to work and all of sudden it hits me. All them fellas who used to belittle me, not a single one of them was curious. You know, they thought they had everything figured out. So, they judged everything. And they judged everyone. And I realized that their underestimating me, who I was had nothing to do with it. Because if they were curious, they would have asked questions…”

And, while (according to Snopes) Walt Whitman never wrote or said the words, still, it’s strong counsel: “Be curious, not judgmental.”

It’s tempting, when we’re in conversations, to ask questions, yes, but to ask and listen through the lens of “they’re doing something wrong” or “what are they doing wrong?” or “what could they be doing better?”.  Judging.

There comes a time for judgment and recommendations, true, and how could our questions and conversations be different if we started out being….just… curious?

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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