HR Remix Your Career

Lack of Curiosity is Killing Your Career

And Your Organization

No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives. – Neil deGrasse Tyson

People are terrified to ask questions. Over time that fear of asking questions, the inability to articulate and challenge in a safe environment, will kill an organization.

It Will Kill Your Career

Unfortunately, as we progress in our careers we tend to hesitate before asking questions.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. – Abraham Lincoln

That hesitation is a way for our caveman brains to stop and evaluate the level of risk associated with asking that question. That pause gives you a minute to read the room and evaluate if you should really ask that question.

Unfortunately, it’s that pause that hurts more then helps.

Maybe we pause because we are trying to figure out the right way to ask a question.

Maybe we pause because we don’t want to look like an idiot in front of others.

We have that Abraham Lincoln quote stuck in our heads and it is ruining your career. When you throw up your hands in faux exasperation or refuse to question a course of action, you are operating out of ignorance or arrogance; neither will help your career.

It Kills Organizations

Our people, experiencing a work world that is very different from the cheery headlines, are terrified of being thought of as idiots and having their name added to the lay off list. Instead of questioning strategy or tactic they:

  • Gather in the meeting-after-the-meeting
  • Assign blame
  • Bottle things up till they explode with a rude or unprofessional comment
  • Leave well before their actual notice date

This Is a Delicate Balance

After all, sometimes people ask stupid questions that reveal they are in fact idiots.

Sorry, its true.

It’s best to clearly define expectations, communicate when they aren’t being met and move along. That’s true for organizations and people.

Hire for Curiosity

I’ll take curiosity over an 8:00 AM on-time-every-day- arrival.

  • If you hire curious people, you don’t have to worry if they are from your industry or not.
  • If you hire curious people, you can smooth any edges, keep the questions coming and have meaningful discussion about tactics and strategy.
  • If you hire curious people, they make it easier for everyone else to ask questions.

It only takes one question to start the conversation.

What Are You Doing to Encourage Curiosity?

What Are You Doing to Encourage Questions?

You Win With People


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Anthony Paradiso August 7, 2017 at 12:29 pm

I agree for the most part. I would start want the person to arrive on time but with a curious mindset.
I try to learn something new everyday, either is it be for personal reasons or professional. Learning new things at the job can happen by offering to handle new projects, reading articles related to your field, such as SHRM articles, etc.

Melissa Fairman August 7, 2017 at 5:48 pm

Thanks for reading Anthony, I appreciate your insight.

HR Carnival – Summer heat | Omega HR Solutions August 16, 2017 at 7:33 am

[…] Melissa Fairman tells us why curiosity is so important in today’s world. In a world where robots may eventually take over curiosity may be one of those human skills that may keep you employed longer than others. So check out her discussion in Lack of Curiosity is Killing Your Career. […]

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