The Shut Down vs. Curiosity

This week in my coaching practice the overarching theme was all about finding power through curiosity.  A week at work can be hectic.  We often respond through shutting people down when they want to take a different direction or have a new idea that interrupts the project. Of course we do.  We’ve got to get things done! We think, “Why is this person trying to make things overcomplicated and difficult!”  We know what needs to be done.

The TRUTH about the shut down, while it saves time, is that it hurts team and individual morale, business relationships, and alignment around problem solving.  We pay professionals for their ideas and analysis but we don’t always let them share it.

We’ve all done the shut down and we’ve all been shut down.  When it happens to us, it doesn’t feel good.  We’ve put a lot of thought into our position and someone squashing our ability to have it heard makes us feel disrespected, unempowered, and lowers our morale.  When we shut down others, it has the same effect.

The Curiosity Experiment 

Recognize when you want to shut someone down, stop yourself and instead take 5 minutes to be really REALLY curious about their position.  If you don’t have the time right then, let them know you want to follow up with them and do it.  Really hear their position and try to understand it through open ended questions.  What do they see that you don’t see?  What are they trying to achieve with this idea?  Why do they think its important to the business?

You don’t have to accept the position, but LISTEN.  Don’t insert your opinion until you really understand theirs.  Whether you agree or disagree, think of how your values are aligned.  Take a moment to appreciate their passion in coming up with their idea.  Think of where your values are aligned with this person.

What happened?  How did this effect your relationship with this person?  How is this person’s energy different than when you shut them down?  What was the value of that 5 minutes (what did you learn)? How often do you think you’ll have to shut this person down in the future?