Curiosity Killed the Cat…or did it? Why being curious is a good thing

Woman Shushing

The expression “curiosity killed the cat” is used to encourage people to mind their own business. But there is a clear distinction between being nosy and being curious.

Curiosity is a critical competence to communicating effectively, resolving conflict, and increasing your intercultural competence (ability to be effective and appropriate in intercultural situations). 

Curiosity is not only asking questions, but also being open-minded and acknowledging when there are gaps in information, knowledge, or experience.

Being curious when communicating with others, either in conflict or across cultural differences empowers one to be receptive to new and different ideas, listen actively, and ask questions to fully understand another’s perspective or intention. 

Too often we fear asking questions will give the appearance of being nosy or incompetent, when, in fact, acting without information is by very definition incompetence.

Curiosity motivates the ability to listen deeply in conversations so communications can be more effectively interpreted, not the words, but the message. And curiosity inspires critical questions that inform our understanding of others.

When questions are asked from a place of genuine curiosity, people are happy to answer and give more information because they have the experience of being heard and having their thoughts and ideas validated.

Curiosity requires a genuine desire to know another person and understand their point of view.

If you are in communication with someone and you are not practicing curiosity, then you are planning your own defense, right?

If you’re not totally open and positioning yourself to understand another, then you’re positioning yourself to be understood. This is one of the great sources of the type of miscommunications that inevitably leads to friction and conflict in relationships with others.

Practice curiosity, be open and eager to learn and know more about others and watch your conversations and relationships change.

Here is more to help you have more effective conversations:


Going Somewhere? How to be a culturally competent traveler


Having Difficult Conversations: The awareness wheel, a tried and true method


Are You Listening to Me? Hearing vs listening


Let’s Make it Uncool to be Agist!



Trainers Toolbox: The fundamentals of intercultural training


Speak Your Mind