An Under-Used Approach to Building Trust

Last year as I was planning a networking activity for participants in our Emerging Leaders Academy, I bounced some ideas off Terri Callahan, CPM director and instructor extraordinaire. I mentioned the need to help people learn to ask questions, both informational and meaningful ones, of others as a way to connect with others.

Terri offered up a phrase that precisely described what I was wanting to encourage them to do: cultivate a curious spirit.

The phrase captures the idea that it’s an ability that can connect us not just to other people, but also to our own deeper selves–bringing a curious spirit to an exchange with another puts us in the mindset to assume they have something to offer and we have something to learn. In spite of the deepness of this intention, there’s also a wonderfully fun association with the idea of curiosity. It implies bringing some lively energy to the act of investigation, something we can all use bit more of these days.

Even as asking questions can energize us and establish a connection with others, when done with a genuine, curious spirit, it also helps create trust by showing regard. This is all the more important when the person asking the questions is in a leadership role and taking the time to really find out about a staff member.

In this Harvard Business Review blog post, “Learn to Ask Better Questions,” John Boldoni offers some guidance for how to ask the sorts of questions that can both cultivate and reflect your own curious spirit.

When has asking questions helped strengthen your working relationships?