Having a conversation is a casual and easy way to connect with one another. By cultivating curiosity, we can foster an attitude of intellectual exploration that creates a lens of gratitude for what we stand to learn and gain from one another, just in conversation alone.
It is by sharing our knowledge and experience that we learn what we have in common and how we can better support one another.
In this way, conversation, no matter how seemingly perfunctory, has the means to serve as a conduit for leadership if we take the intentional step to channel what we have gleaned from another into a way to serve with a greater impact.
I listened to Adam Grant’s interview with Satya Nadella, the Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, on his podcast Rethinking with Adam Grant. He shared how learning from others is a key source of his intellectual exploration on a daily basis. He has a simple process he refers to as his daily learning system in which he records–
His daily routine
Who he met and talked with
What ideas he picked up from those conversations
What first step he’ll take to implement the ideas he gained
Be an intellectual explorer yourself by taking time to chat with others each day. Here’s a challenge–reach beyond your normal sphere of influence to connect with the mail person, the man at the dog park you always run into, the barista at the coffee shop. You get the idea.
Here are 3 tips for making the most of chance encounters with strangers and acquaintances or visits with close friends and family.
What’s significant about this conversation at this moment in my life?
What gem, or insight am I left with?
What step(s) will I take to implement the learning from this conversation?
The people and circumstances change, but my interest in others remains steady for one big reason: I always walk away having learned something new that will support me or someone I know.
Here are some further recommendations for fostering an open and inquisitive attitude for learning and growth through conversations with others—
1. Don’t Get Fixated: Cultivate a Growth Mindset. By nurturing a belief that you are a work in progress and can learn what you don’t yet know, your potential for adaptation and ability to thrive in the face of change is ensured.
a. Belief: We all have something of value to offer the world.
b. Prompt: What is my value as someone committed to my own personal growth and spiritual
2. Listen to Learn: Listen to learn something new that informs your future choices.
Imagine each individual who comes into your life has something of value to impart at this moment in your life. Look for ways you can learn from others by capturing the insights from these conversations to inform your forward momentum and future growth.
a. Belief: People come into your life for a reason.
b. Prompts: What was important about my conversation with __________ today? How does
the timing of our exchange make sense in this season of my life?
3. Asking Questions Is an Adventure! Curiosity releases dopamine in the brain, which just makes us more curious. Compassion and kindness paired with curiosity expresses deep interest which makes any subject feel respected and special. Ask questions about what is not obvious and what is of true interest to you to deepen your connection to the person and their experience.
a. Belief: Curiosity is an expression of respect and interest in another.
b. Tip: Be sensitive to topics that may be difficult to discuss; not sure what those might be, ask
permission, before probing with a question.
c. Prompt: Who have you met recently who created an unexpected positive impact on you?
4. Bridge the Gap: Make Connections Between Their Story and Your Own to Express Solidarity
and Build Trust
a. Belief: We find what we are looking for, so look for what connects you to others rather
than what separates.
b. Prompt: What does what you love and appreciate in others tell you about what you love
and appreciate in yourself?
5. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due: Name Your Muse. You learned something insightful that spawned a new idea or an action that you want to take immediate steps on. Give feedback in a way that lets that person know how they inspired you.
a. Belief: We inspire and are inspired by each other. Letting them know, makes the
b. Prompt: Who have you been in conversation with this week that inspires you? What
inspires you about them or their story?
I encourage you to step into a new perspective that people come into your life for a reason at just the right time. Let this perspective source your appreciation for what is possible when we open our hearts to each other, sharing our hopes, fears, and dreams as we support each other along the way.
My final tip is to make a daily list of the people you meet in a day. Consider the questions above as you evaluate how you will integrate the gift of their presence in your life.
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