Curiosity and Listening

Curiosity and listening seem to have an inverse relationship to each other. If one is curious, then there is an impetus to listen intently and therefore be genuinely interested and involved in a conversation. On the other hand, if one lacks curiosity, then the mind has a tendency to wander and one cannot focus on what the other party might be saying.

What is curiosity? Its a certain state of attention when one is genuinely interested in what is in front of us. At any point during the day, one might find oneself doing a variety of things – having a conversation with a colleague or a neighbor, watching kids playing in the park, driving to work or cooking. Irrespective of what one is involved in at the moment, curiosity has the capacity to naturally channel our attention and bring it into the present moment. One could call this observation. In this observation, there is learning.

When one lacks the curiosity, the mind wanders and goes off into day-dreaming mode. Attention falters and we don’t fully notice what is going on. This is particularly noticeable in conversations. Without the full attention that is fueled by curiosity, the parties don’t tune into each other emotions and the conversation stays on the surface, never reaching its full potential.