In the Fall of 2017, I met Justin Westmoreland. Justin is the pastor of a church plant in Norman. We had connected on LinkedIn and I reached out to schedule time for coffee with Justin to learn more about him and how we may be able to help each other in the future. Little did I know how much I would learn about curiosity.
Justin is a master at the art of curiosity. Rather than talk much about himself and what he’s involved with, he simply asks a lot of questions. Mind you, he doesn’t do this in an obnoxious way where it feels like you’re being interrogated. Instead, Justin exhibits what I refer to authentic curiosity.
What is authentic curiosity?
Authentic curiosity is the ability to ask sincere questions that seek to learn about the real person you’re meeting with. It means asking questions that probe just a bit deeper for an understanding and an awareness of what is meaningful to that person as well as what their challenges are. It’s done with a true sincerity that shows a level of compassion and care. In other words, in the vernacular of Larry Levine in his book, Selling from the Heart, it’s about “giving a rip” about the other person.
Why is authentic curiosity important?
In any relationship, especially at the beginning, showing that you truly care about the other person is vitally important. And the way you show that you truly care is through your desire and interest in learning about the other person. It’s natural; we all love to talk about ourselves. We love to talk about who we are, about our family, about our career. We love to share about ourselves and when someone intently desires to learn by asking you to share your story, it begins to develop a real relationship.
Without authentic curiosity, we never truly learn what is important to the other person. How can we identify ways to help if we don’t know? The curiosity you display in the conversation empowers the other person to open up and talk freely. The more they share, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you can potentially make a meaningful impact.
The lesson for sales
Become authentically curious about those you meet. Ask sincere questions that encourage the other person to freely share about themselves. As Stephen Covey teaches, “Seek first to understand,” and then you will truly connect with the other person.
Too often we fail to do as Covey teaches and, instead, we jump in with our preconceived notions of what the other person wants or needs. We base our understanding on two things: 1) Our initial observations and, 2) What’s in it for us. This is completely backwards and does nothing to build and cultivate a real relationship. We must seek to understand as much as possible about the other person.
If you want to cultivate real relationships and develop a connection with someone who likes and trusts you, become a student. Develop an authentic curiosity about others and sit back, listen and learn.
In the end, I know you will appreciate all the true connections you have made. Thanks, Justin, for a lesson in authentic curiosity!