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A Quick Debrief: Getting Curious with Others

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Many of us move through life, at work and out of it, thinking (even subconsciously) some version of: “You have your perspective, and I have the right perspective.”

But there’s so much possibility in getting curious about the needs and values of others.

In this short video, learn why—and where to start. It’s a great reminder to be gentle and honest with others and ourselves as we reflect on this year and look ahead to 2024.

 

TRANSCRIPT

Sarah:

Hi everyone, it’s Sarah and Theresa coming at you to explore a topic that might serve the conversations you have with yourself or others or in the workplace, especially as we head into this year end. Theresa, what are we talking about today?

Teresa:

We are talking about how to get curious with others, particularly about their needs and their values. Yeah.

Sarah:

And why is that important? You like how I’m just going to put you on the spot?

Teresa:

Love it. Yeah, I mean, how much time have you got? This matters for a couple reasons, and you chime in of course. But something I see a lot is that we are very focused on our own minds, our own ideas. We forget that our perspective isn’t the perspective. Even I was talking to my son and he said, so the thing with social media is it tracks what you look at and it gives you more of the same. And so you have to be so intentional about expanding perspectives, about understanding others, about getting out of the algorithm and really looking for understanding. So I think it’s also can be a great place of empathy. I think it can be a great place of reminding yourself there’s a human on the other side of this need or preference or whatever that might not fit with yours. That might get annoying. Just doesn’t fit, just doesn’t jive. So those are my starting comments by opening statement, if you will.

Sarah:

I love it. Well, yeah, we will joke like you have your perspective and I have the right perspective. And it’s just a perspective. And we’re intentionally using this language of needs and values because we know that when there is a challenge in a relationship, regardless of where that relationship exists, that when there’s a challenge in a relationship, it is because that there is a need that’s not being met or a value that’s being stepped on or not being honored. And so when we think about creating more powerful relationships, it’s a combination of how do I better more clearly communicate what I need? How do I show up in a way that aligns with my values and how do I understand what the other person needs and what they value and how do we meet in the middle on that? So I think that what we find in our work is that idea of needs tends to be a fairly new concept for a lot of folks I haven’t thought about, but what I need is to just be heard.

Teresa:

Yeah, there’s so much power in that and it’s simultaneously really simple and really complex. I think it’s something I love about a reminder of getting curious about others and curious with others is we just need reminders that our perspective isn’t the only one which we’ve said, but also knowing how to initiate a conversation or participate in a conversation about needs or values. Because don’t, one of the biggest sins in any kind of relationship is that you expect the person to read your mind to just know. And so what I love about some tools about being able to first consider what might be happening and then check it out is you are taking one of those fateful relationship things off the table. I’m not going to make assumptions. I might have an idea that I want to check. I might just invite you to share. I think I’m thinking of a holiday perhaps coming up for me. And the mind reading which it serves no one, whether you think of it as mind reading or you just think about being guided by assumptions. It just sets that train on the wrong track.

Sarah:

And well, I can own up to this that I would say for the first half of my relationship with Nick, I would just get irritated that he didn’t know what I wanted.

Teresa:

So common. And that I said that I’ve heard other people say frequently is I shouldn’t have to tell him. I shouldn’t have tell them where the hell did that come from? Where in the media where in? And I don’t know what she did. I feel like I had somebody go, but how will he know? He should just know. And I was like, now I look back at that and go, oh, that’s not setting the relationship up for success. On some level it feels like a trap. You didn’t get it. You did it wrong.

 

And we see this play out regularly in the workplace as well where the leader or the person with the most formal power or even the most social power, expects everyone to know and behave according to their standard instead of that navigation. Sarah, what are some of your favorite ways to embrace curiosity about others?

Sarah:

Don’t I know about them? Just like a great question. It’s hard. I try really hard to challenge myself when I’m struggling with somebody to step back and go, okay, what is it they need? What is their value? And I think one of the things that I’ve learned through this work and my own personal journey is, oh, I lost my train of thought. This has been happening a lot today. Just it’s a Friday after a long. But this idea of just paying attention to their needs just, oh, I remember, I don’t have to share their need. I don’t have to share their value to understand it, to hear it. And so those are some things, and even just asking, I mean, we do work of the collaborative commitments and just like, what do you need? And you think about going into the holidays, how do we approach this in a way that feels really good and not exhausting and training? What do we need to do maybe what do we need to try differently? And how this looks in my personal relationship is my family’s big. We’re loud, there’s 20 of us when we get together. There’s a lot of sardines being played. So there’s a lot of counting and squealing and cards and so much sardines, Theresa. And it’s very loud group counting to let the person know, thank goodness.

 

And so Nick’s like what I need is just the ability to stay upstairs for a little bit, to have some quiet recharge time, or if I get a little overstimulated, be okay that I just need to go upstairs. Same with his family. And there are times where it’s just, I can only watch so much football. It’s not my thing. So it’s okay if I go upstairs or usually I’m going outside for a walk that tends I need the activity to recharge and he needs the quiet. Yeah. What about you? What are some of your strategies?

Teresa:

I love what you pointed out too about looking for those little changes that might make a win-win. Even if the win-win is I understand that’s what you need and you go do that thing, whether it’s the quiet or the recharge, I think looking for those little tweaks is good. Something I come up against quite a bit is there’s so much, there’s so many norms, and this is very cultural depending where you live, what your dynamic is, that whole thing. But the tendency to say, what would you need nothing? So I’ve been trying to, and I hear what might be helpful or what do you need? And the response is just that knee jerk, nothing to say, well, think about it and let me know. Or if you think of something and then I circle back to that even a day later even, or then because I’ve already planted the seed that we might talk about it. I can go back and say, I know you haven’t shared anything yet, but one thing I thought of was, and it can be a different opening into, I think anything where you can picture uniting on the same side and looking at the issue from back here together is really helpful. And there will just be things that clash, little clashes, big clashes, and that’s normal. That’s humans. Oh, I’m thinking about 69 or 70% of conflict is perpetual. It’s going to be the same things coming up

Sarah:

And related to that, is okay that there might be values of yours that you’re like, Nope, this is a non-negotiable for me.

Teresa:

Absolutely.

Sarah:

Or how you’re showing up is like, that’s not the kind of relationship I want, or that’s not the kind of environment I want to be in, or those beliefs are harmful to me and so I’m going to do what I need to do to protect me. So being curious doesn’t necessarily mean being compliant doesn’t necessarily mean that you are being submissive. It’s just taking a moment to understand the other person and then making a decision based off of that that will best serve you and or best serve the relationship.

Teresa:

I think that’s a great asterisk to put on this because we would never advocate someone putting themself in a situation that was unsafe physically or psychologically where you might be harmed because of dynamics and beliefs. And that I think getting curious about others is a great way to gain understanding. But we would never want ourselves or anyone else to put themselves in that situation. But I want to celebrate. We had a situation unfolding of a real clash of preferences related to holidays, and I did see the need that another person in the family had. I did see it and recognize it, and I still wasn’t willing to fully compromise. And so I said, I see that this is important to you. I see you really in your soul, kind of need this. This is what I can offer. And I was proud of myself because before I would’ve said, and I’m not really rolling my eyes like this, but I’m more rolling my eyes at the exhaustion that comes when you go past your boundary. So that was more what it was when you sacrifice yourself.

 

And so traditionally that would’ve been my, okay, well just do this and all or nothing. And it felt like a real moment of personal growth for me to say, I really do and I care enough about this person that their need is important to me on some level. But I couldn’t give all of myself to that. I couldn’t go as far as they were wanting to go. And it felt like what I hope, and this is a person, a few words, but I hope that they felt their need was seen and that they understood I was going to do my best to meet it without giving more than I could give right now. And that felt like a good balance months.

Sarah:

Yeah, no, that’s a great example. So we always want to hear from you what situations have turned out differently because you were willing to get with somebody. How do you stay curious? What have you learned in navigating relationships? You can always send us a note on the website or you can shoot us an email at hello@sarahnollwilson.com and we will see you later our friends. Bye.

 

Website | + posts

Sarah Noll Wilson is on a mission to help leaders build and rebuild teams. She aims to empower leaders to understand and honor the beautiful complexity of the humans they serve. Through her work as an Executive Coach, an in-demand Keynote Speaker, Researcher, Contributor to Harvard Business Review, and Bestselling Author of “Don’t Feed the Elephants”, Sarah helps leaders close the gap between what they intend to do and the actual impact they make. She hosts the podcast “Conversations on Conversations”, is certified in Co-Active Coaching and Conversational Intelligence, and is a frequent guest lecturer at universities. In addition to her work with organizations, Sarah is a passionate advocate for mental health.

Dr. Teresa Peterson
Director of Learning and Development | Website | + posts

Dr. Teresa Peterson is the Director of Learning and Development for Sarah Noll Wilson, Inc. In her daily work, she serves as Sarah’s key content collaborator. Teresa enjoys facilitating, researching, and is passionate about applying best practices for learning to make our experiences meaningful, engaging, and accessible for all types of learners. Teresa holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of Northern Iowa and brings over twenty years of experience teaching, facilitating, and leading to our team. Our clients love Teresa’s grounded energy, depth of thought, and ability to listen deeply.

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