As we think about connecting in real life again, resuming networking habits, or maybe refining that podcast you started in the last year. Remember this: Curiosity doesn’t replace preparation.
Curiosity alone doesn’t lead to a great conversation or even a productive one if you didn’t take the time to get curious before the conversation started.
Spend a few minutes to consider things like:
How do you know this person? Are you familiar with them or do you need to do a little research?
What’s happened in the time since last talking to them? Think about what could have happened in their industry, with their job or in the world in general so you can bring empathy, understanding and perspective to the conversation.
What are you hoping to get out of the conversation? Identify the objective before you start talking so you know where the conversation needs to go.
What needs to happen for it to be a successful conversation? Drill down and get a little more specific on how you’re going to meet your objective. A successful conversation could be defined a lot of different ways. For me personally, sometimes I’m looking for a smile or a laugh from an athlete during an interview. In a business conversation I might be looking for a piece of information to use in a follow up email.
If you try to answer these questions in the moment you’ll have a harder time being present in the conversation. If you don’t consider them at all curiosity becomes a cop out. It’s like saying “I’m curious as to how you’re going to entertain me and give me information that’s interesting.”
Intentionality is key to effective communication. So is curiosity before a conversation starts.