Why curiosity is a powerful trait in the best employees

As a child, you must have heard the term curiosity killed the cat. From a young age, we were told that curiosity has a negative connotation to it and that we shouldn’t ask too many questions. We were told that too much curiosity can put us in dangerous situations, be perceived as a weakness, or even as being rude. As we grew older, this translated into a fear of questioning things for the sake of sounding ignorant or intrusive. Maybe this meant staying silent in college when your professor asked if anyone had a question—or later when your potential employer asked if you have any questions about the job in an interview or the first month in a new role.

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein

When you’re finally put in a situation where you know you should ask a question, it can be difficult to tap into a curiosity reservoir that most of us have been repressing all our lives. That’s why adults who ask questions tend to stand out in meetings and job interviews. In fact, multiple studies have shown that curious people are a positive asset in society—particularly the workplace.

Here are the 4 primary reasons why individuals with a naturally inquisitive outlook on life make for better employees.

  1. They’re natural learners

People with a high CQ (Curiosity Quotient) have a natural drive for seeking new knowledge through conversation and other means. They are also able to admit when they don’t have the answer. Instead of trying to figure out everything on their own to avoid embarrassment, they admit when they don’t know something so that they will be informed for next time they encounter the issue. They are more likely to learn something out of a situation than someone who avoids their ignorance altogether.

"It's more important for [curious people] to learn than to look smart."- LeeAnn Renninger, coauthor of Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected.

  1. They have more initiative 

Naturally inquisitive people take the time to question and explore new things because they invest more time into their intellect. This means they dedicate time to find answers to questions out of pure will, not because they feel pressured to do so.

This desire to be constantly learning will drive them to seek out new opportunities in their job: this may mean taking on new work or larger quantities of work. This initiative is particularly valued in a startup environment where employees are often required to juggle multiple roles in the company.

  1. They’re innovative

Almost all businesses are finding ways to innovate—it’s necessary for any business to grow and become successful. Curious individuals thrive in this kind of environment because change is not something they fear. People with a high CQ thrive off of learning new things and would be able to pick up a new software or technology with ease.

Moreover, these kinds of people are constantly questioning, which makes them key players in innovation. Ultimately they are the ones questioning current practices and finding ways to instigate change.

You have to say, ‘Wait a second. Why are we doing it this way? Could it be better? Could it be different?’ That kind of curiosity, that explorer’s mind, that childlike wonder, that’s what makes an inventor. – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon

  1. They’re problem solvers 

According to Harvard Business Review, people with a higher CQ are more tolerant to ambiguity. In other words, uncertainty or ‘the unknown’ does not frighten them. Therefore, they are not alarmed when faced with a problem or unsolved issue.

This goes back to the desire for answers. If a curious person comes across a problem, it brings up multiple questions, such as: “What caused the problem?” and “How can I fix it?” A position that involves intense problem solving—such as a tech company—would be perfect for an individual with a high CQ, because they would be inclined to dedicate the time to work on a solution.

For these reasons, never be afraid to ask questions. Delve into the curious part of your consciousness and start using it as a strategic asset.

Curiosity and daily reflection are twin weapons in your arsenal of success. Learn how to master the art of reflection to fuel your career path.

We are Toronto recruiters obsessed with helping early stage high growth tech companies find the talent they need. 

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