For a bit of time in 2015, Robert Krulwich and Aatish Bhatia authored a blog called “Noticing,” saying that it was for folks who “like to look around. Who can’t not. Who find it hard to get anywhere on time because there’s always something—an oddly behaving raindrop (is it going up? How can it go up?)—that we can’t not notice, not puzzle over.”
They called themselves badly over-puzzled.
Hmmmm…Woah! Huh? Aha!
Their notion was that observation and curiosities—those little things that “catch the eye”—can put us in a state of
They invited every reader to join them on a journey “to look more closely, to delight, and even obsess about the littlest of things,” asserting that doing so could take anyone to “wonderfully big places,” and their blog entries included pieces on breathing and bigness.
Today, both men are still writing to spur others on toward curiosity (Krulwich with National Geographic, and Bhatia at WIRED and Nautilus) and you can hear Krulwhich on Radiolab, WNYC’s Peabody Award-winning program that he hosts about curiosity and “big ideas,” while Bhatia encourages everyone to get excited about science as an educator at Princeton University’s Council on Science and Technology.
But what about noticing and getting curious about people?
When it comes to relationships, what wonderfully big places could you arrive to?
Q Place has worked lots with Scott West, who heads up a large financial consulting group that helps financial advisors connect better with their clients. He has discovered, based on research, something he calls “the Natural Order of Curiosity.” This is not a rigid structure intended to be formulaic; rather, it’s an intuitive process for building deep relationships.
The idea is that as we meet and begin to learn about another person, our mutual inquiry will naturally follow a path that includes four categories. When we move through these areas and are mindful of them, we can have conversations that are not invasive but comfortable and appropriate.
Beyond initial introductions
The following are the four categories West describes:
- History – Where are you from? Asking history questions is instinctive when you first meet people, but if you spend a few minutes in this area, you can learn so much more than birthplace or schooling!
- Transitions – Where are you now? When you have a common frame of reference and some understanding of a person’s history, transition questions are appropriate, focusing on what is current in his or her life.
- Principles – How did you get here? This can be easily missed, but with intention, not overlooked. These questions seek to discover the principles on which a person builds his or her perspective. They can be deeply held convictions based on life experiences that shape a person’s outlook and become a framework for decision making.
- Goals – Where are you going? These questions are forward thinking and visionary.
Goals should not be explored until the first three areas have been discovered!
Thinking about the “Hmmm…” “Woah!” “Huh?” and “Aha!” cycle of Krulwich and Bhatia, it is unusual that those exploring Christianity will reach their “Aha!” without plenty of other, smaller moments of “Hmmm…” and “Huh?” Unfortunately, some traditional outreach approaches have prompted Christians to ask questions that leap too quickly to the Goals category without first building the relational equity that comes from listening and asking more questions. When walking alongside someone who believes differently, the believer must remain patient and loving, praying that the Holy Spirit will bring forth the ultimate “Aha!”
Don’t let haste sabotage a conversation or a relationship!
Following the natural order of curiosity in our conversations with people, the level of connection grows, trust is built, and the ultimate questions of life will fit into an appropriate place and time.