For sales professionals, curiosity remains the most important (and elusive) skill.
I used to believe you couldn’t train for curiosity but this is not true…
…at least according to Jason A Riley, author of Left of Bang and someone who has spent his career teaching situational awareness to U.S. Marines.
What is situational awareness?
The long version can be found in Toward a Theory of Situational Awareness.
The short version defines Situational Awareness as:
‘The ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission. More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you.’
If you aspire to develop the situational awareness of Jason Bourne, you can read this fun article.
Curiosity in its purest form is a Need to be fulfilled…an itch that must be scratched.
Curiosity causes us to ask ‘why?’ three times in a row.
Curiosity allows us to overcome our fear of appearing stupid or impolite.
Situational awareness is simply an application of curiosity.
Similarly, an intention to develop situational awareness suggests a high level of natural (or learned) curiosity. Why else (other than clinical paranoia) would one consider situational awareness worth practicing?
As with all things learned, success requires first defining your motivation.
How will developing curiosity benefit you personally?
For the military or covert operator, situational awareness represents a tool for survival.
For the rest of us, the benefits of developing our curiosity must be clear and compelling because curiosity requires subordinating the focus on ourselves to an awareness of what is occurring outside us.
For me this means creating space in my mind before every interaction. This requires turning off my cell phone and instant messaging applications and eliminating distractions before each conversation.
It also means spending time thinking deeply about my next conversation. It is difficult if not impossible to leverage curiosity when your brain is still digesting the last meeting (which ran 20 minutes over) as you dash to the next conference call.
Being present is far more challenging than your yoga teacher would have you believe.
As you go about your week, here are some things to consider:
- Where would being curious have helped you?
- What questions or actions did you fail to take?
- When and why were you distracted?
- What might you have missed?
Don’t forget to ask these questions in your ‘real’ life as well as your business life.