Yet it's such a vital trait, especially in business. Curiosity drives you to continuously learn about your industry, understand your customers, and create innovative products.
It's also essential for building quality relationships. After all, people are drawn to those who genuinely want to hear their stories. When was the last time someone took an interest in your dreams and desires? How did it make you feel?
This means being present in the here and now, giving people in your presence 100 percent of your attention.
Technology is a thief in this regard. In fact, if you want to repel someone during a conversation make sure to do lots of tapping on your phone. The people who I most want to spend time with never do this. (And if you have phone-wielding kids, teach them mobile manners early--there are far too many people in the world who are clueless as to how rude this head-down behavior is.)
Nobody likes a whiner. Not only are optimists better company, they are more successful than equally talented pessimists.
Insurance and financial services company Metropolitan Life created a test to determine the optimism levels of new salespeople. Over time it found that optimists outsold the pessimists by 20 percent in the first year, with the difference spiking to 50 percent during the second year.
Remember the scene in the 2000 movie "Bounce" when Gwyneth Paltrow's character jumps up to step on toilet paper trailing behind the shoe of a teenager on a prom date? The small action--which only took a second or two--communicated her kindness, something that Ben Affleck's character found attractive.
In some ways, kindness is a virtue people acquire as children as they see it modeled by others. In other ways, it's a habit.
An easy way to sprinkle kindness into your life is to find at least one person a day on whom to bestow an honest compliment, whether it's a coworker, a stranger, or a family member.
Researchers have found people who describe themselves as lucky tend to notice things more than self-described unlucky people. They're open-minded and willing to act on unexpected opportunities. Unlucky people tend to be tense and so focused on narrow goals that they miss chances to do new things.
Not that you want to run around the office high-fiving people all the time, but genuine enthusiasm is a valuable asset when it comes to motivating others.
If you're in a rut and lacking enthusiasm for your work, you need to switch things up. Are there processes in your day you can eliminate? Can you delegate work to employees, freeing up your time to work on things you're passionate about? Can you cut loose an unproductive employee, unprofitable product line, or low-margin customer?
Whatever you need to do to get psyched up, do it.
Show me someone who pretends to have it all together and you'll find me walking the other direction. While authenticity is hard to define, you probably know its opposite when you see it.
My favorite people are direct and not afraid to share things about themselves that might even make them look bad. In doing so they convey a sense of humility, honesty, and vulnerability that work to lower people's defenses. If you can do that, you're well on your way to engaging with them.
CHRISTINA DESMARAIS is an Inc.com contributor who writes about the tech startup community, covering innovative ideas, news, and trends. Have a tip? Email her at christinadesmarais (at) live (dot) com. @salubriousdish