top of page

Curiosity Never "Killed the Cat"

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

Asking curious questions is essential to getting in touch with our thoughts, feelings and needs, fostering empathy and more effective communication. Getting curious helps you better understand your needs and the needs of others. Staying curious is the antidote to complacency.

Asking questions sends the message you want to know more, that you are open to new and different perspectives. It’s how you learn and understand what’s needed of you so unrealistic expectations aren’t set.

Questions build confidence and test assumptions. The more we understand something, the more confident we feel. The more questions you ask, the clearer you will be on the next step you want to take and the more attune you will be to your emotions, internal rhythms and needs as well as to the needs and feelings of those around you.

Let’s look at some different types of questions.

With curious *open questions, you acknowledge you don’t have an answer and don’t intend to judge or blame. The intention is to learn more and understand, so you can behave differently.

Curious questions promote inductive reasoning and begin with who, what, where, when and how. Leading questions begin with the same words as curious questions— who, what, where, when, and how — but they are not curious because the person asking the question already thinks they know the answer.

Eg: What were the reasons you decided this was a good idea? Parents do this a lot to "wait to negate" the response with the main goal to reaffirm lessons they have taught children beforehand, but it does not allow for curiosity because there is an inherent right and wrong implied already.

Sometimes we think we are asking a curious open question because we don’t know the answer. We start the question with how, who, what, where, when, or why. However, when the question contains negative words that convey judging, blaming, and shaming, we are asking a judging question.

This approach results in pushing emotional buttons, triggering an outcome that does not generate curiosity or learning. Eg: How could you think this was a good idea? What is going on with you? Here is a visual example to help related to the subject of eating habits.

Eg: I notice I have ordered take-out a lot this week. Is my fridge stocked with what I need to satisfy my hunger? Are there enough or too many options? Do the items in the fridge take a lot of prep to make meals, and if so, do I have the time needed to prep? Am I feeling stressed lately and prone to higher caloric foods, salty, sweet, savory to satiate my feelings? What else could I try? If I am using food to soothe myself emotionally, what other ways could I fulfill these needs? Who might I engage for support as I make some changes in this area of life?

Getting curious is the precursor to problem-solving.

Try this out to start learning about your own struggle with curiosity and judgment.

Looking at our relationships with others, I have another example.

Think for a moment about driving in traffic. Can you remember a recent time when you encountered another driver that appeared to be driving in a way that was dangerous? Perhaps this other driver was driving too fast, weaving in and out of lanes of traffic, and not coming to a complete stop at stop signs. What thoughts went through your mind? Did you automatically assume that this other driver was drunk? An idiot? Something worse? But imagine for a moment that you had a chance to talk to the driver of the other car and discovered that the reason for the driver’s hurry was that he or she had just received a call that a parent was dying and that it was urgent to arrive soon if there was any hope of saying goodbye. Would that change your perception of that driver? What if that person was rushing to the hospital because one of their children had just been in a bad car accident?

  • Think of a situation when you displayed genuine curiosity. How did curiosity feel in your body?

  • How do you approach situations or people that you are curious about?

  • Think of a situation when you were stuck in judgment. How did judgment feel in your body?

  • How do you approach situations or people that you feel judgment toward?

  • What words or phrases do find yourself using when you are judging? What words or phrases do you find yourself using when you are being curious?

  • What structures (or reminders) can you create in your life to help you be aware of judgment when it arises and facilitate the shift to curiosity instead?

Want to feel better about your life and relationships? Remember...

  • Turn judgment into curiosity

  • Turn disagreement into shared exploration

  • Turn defensiveness into self-reflection

  • Turn assumptions into questions


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page