Stimulating Intellectual Curiosity
17 October 2019

Developing curiosity – intellectual development – sparking creativity

When children start talking, they ask questions about everything and anything. As a child one of my brothers left a trail of disembowelled and reconstructed alarm clocks and other mechanical items in his wake. The other brother was fished out of every river and harbour in the south of the UK. Our mother used to say that they both “looked with their hands”. They certainly liked to get in there and find out “what”, “how” and “why”.

It’s said that on average children ask one question every two minutes of their waking lives. The barrage of excited questions can irritate adults, which is a shame. Some of the questions children come out with are remarkable for example, why, if flies fly the right way up, do they land upside down?

Having a healthy and lively curiosity has been linked with psychological, emotional, social, and even health benefits. People who are curious tend to have active rather than passive minds. They ask questions and search for answers. They notice and are stimulated by new ideas. Life is far more exciting when you’re curious!

Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic said curiosity is as important as intelligence. Writing in the Harvard Business Review in 2015 he concluded that people with a higher curiosity quotient are more inquisitive and open to new experiences … they tend to generate many original ideas and are counter-conformist. They have nuanced thinking and they’re good at producing simple solutions for complex problems.

A well-developed sense of curiosity helps leaders to develop and build great teams. They create opportunities and ways of breaking away from limited thinking. Intellectually curious leaders actively engage are risk-takers, entrepreneurial, courageous but not foolish. They experiment, testing the boundaries of possibilities without fear of failure. Curious people keep asking questions to achieve their goals. They like a full and open debate and welcome ideas. They are great people to have on your team.

Curiosity is good for our health. Curious people are happier, better problem solvers, build better relationships and are more empathetic. Being curious has so many benefits but it’s often discouraged during our childhood. (“Children should be seen but not heard”). Einstein said rather tartly: "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."

How do you develop intellectual curiosity?

  • Open your mind to new ideas.
  • Be interested in everything.
  • Don’t take anything for granted.
  •  Listen carefully and focus on what’s being said.
  • Ask questions about everything.
  • Be willing to ask questions that might seem stupid.
  • Don’t label something as boring. Be interested in everything.
  • See mistakes as learning and learning as something fun.
  • Read widely to inspire, inform and develop your mind. 

You can also develop curiosity in your team by:

  • Valuing and rewarding curiosity.
  • Teaching team members how to ask quality questions.
  • Noticing when people feel puzzled or confused.
  • Encouraging team members to try different approaches.
  • Spreading the curiosity around.
  • Using current events to generate questions and discussions.
  • Teaching team members to question and analyse a situation.

If you’re an employer with HR queries and problems, get in touch! 

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2022 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.