Curiosity among employees can be a bit of a hassle for bosses. Do you really want to spend time explaining why you're doing what you're doing to your team? And if employees take an interest in other parts of a project beyond their area of expertise, won't it reduce focus and spur turf wars?

But if you sometimes wish your staff would just hunker down and quit asking questions (or you sometimes think this is the easier course of action yourself), you might want to bone up on your psychology. As a fascinating recent post from UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center points out, curiosity may sometimes annoy others (and it's apparently a terrible trait for felines, according to an old saying) but it also really helps humans be successful. How? Here are a few ways writer Emily Campbell cites.

1. Curiosity and happiness go together.

"Research has shown curiosity to be associated with higher levels of positive emotions, lower levels of anxiety, more satisfaction with life, and greater psychological well-being," Campbell reports. And as we all know happiness tends to makes you more successful.

2. Curiosity helps you learn.

This one is probably no surprise to anyone who has struggled to keep alert and grasp concepts in a less-than-stimulating class. As you discovered while struggling not to stare blankly out the window, it's really hard to learn what you're not interested in. "Studies reveal that curiosity leads to more enjoyment and participation in school and higher academic achievement, as well as greater learning, engagement, and performance at work," confirms Campbell.

3. Curiosity boosts empathy.

Empathy is a key skill of exceptional leaders, and luckily it's also one that we can cultivate. Curiosity helps build your empathy muscles. "When we are curious about others and talk to people outside our usual social circle, we become better able to understand those with lives, experiences, and worldviews different than our own," the article says.

So if you're looking to boost your empathy, Campbell suggests you show more curiosity, really engaging strangers, expecially those that are quite different from you, asking them about their lives and truly listening to their answers.

How can you be a little more curious about the world today?

Published on: Oct 26, 2015
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