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  • Writer's pictureBennett Bratt

Kindling Curiosity and Compassion Helps Teams Thrive

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A lack of curiosity and compassion could be standing in your way to improvements in team effectiveness.

When team members approach one another with genuine curiosity and compassion, they create an environment where it feels just a bit safer to express themselves and take risks. This, in turn, can lead to more collaborative bridge-building.

Curiosity drives exploration and learning, encouraging team members to understand each other, ask meaningful questions, and seek new, ongoing ways of understanding one another.

Compassion ensures that team members can see one another as fully human and appreciate the value they bring while allowing room for improvement.

Together, they create a culture where mutual respect and positive intent can become norms.

How to Cultivate Curiosity and Compassion

It's easy to get caught up in tasks and deadlines, forgetting the human elements that make a team truly effective (and enjoyable). How can you infuse these qualities into your daily routines? Try bits of these:

1. Foster a Growth Mindset for Relationships: We often think about growth mindsets related to work or skills. Consider adopting a growth mindset related to how you interact with your team members. This openness to continuous learning will benefit you greatly as you work with different people.

2. Model Curiosity: Model curiosity in your interactions with your team members. This might look like asking about important aspects of their personal lives, or it may look like truly seeking to understand their point of view on professional topics. Here are a few examples of what that might look and sound like:

  • “Hey, I know your marathon is coming up this weekend! What are you going to do to celebrate your hard work?” 

  • “It sounds like we might have a different opinion on that. I want to understand your point of view. Could you help me understand what you mean by…”

3. Model Compassion: Model compassion with your fellow team members by assuming positive intent, showing a willingness to compromise, offering encouragement, and actively listening. Here are a few examples of what that might look and sound like: 

  • “It’s possible you had a good reason for missing that deadline. Let’s figure out how to get back on track.”

  • “I felt frustrated by that comment, but I want to understand where you’re coming from. Could we take a quick timeout and come back with refreshed heads?”

  • I noticed how hard you’ve been working on that project. Your expertise doesn’t go unappreciated. Thanks for all you do. It makes all of our lives easier.”

  • “It sounds like you’re having a tough time. Is there anything I can do to help?”

4. Invite Others To Join You: An intentional, verbal invitation is powerful. Consider sharing your intention to cultivate curiosity and compassion with your team and invite them to join you. This might sound like: 

  • “Hey team, recently I’ve learned about the power of curiosity and compassion—both for our effectiveness and enjoyability on this team. I’m trying it out, and if you’re interested, I’d love for you to join me. If you’re interested, I can send you a blog that helped me get started with some actionable steps.”

Thriving Through Compassion and Curiosity

When you become skilled at extending curiosity and compassion within your team, you become more resilient, inclusive, and cohesive. A rising tide lifts all boats. You will make others feel valued and motivated, and you will also feel more connected. This leads to better outcomes and a more stable, progressive work environment.

Call to Action

If you're nodding in agreement or have a gut feeling that you might try this, then take that first step today and implement one of these strategies in your next team meeting.

Remember, the journey towards a more compassionate and curious team starts with a single step. And you don’t have to do this alone - get a colleague or two on board to try out one or two of these practices.

Let me know how it goes.

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