The Power of Curiosity in Coaching and Conflict Resolution


One challenge in coaching other people is that you will often coach them on issues where you see a clear answer or course of action before they see it. When this happens, you can find yourself jumping to conclusions and making assumptions about their motivations, drivers and desires.

To avoid the conflict escalation, communication breakdown, and high negative emotional energy created by premature assumptions and judgments, work on maintaining an attitude of curiosity as you interact with and coach other people.

In preparing for this post, I found an interesting article at that mentioned an interesting study on the power of consciously creating a curious attitude…

[One] study asked participants to view a video of someone holding a view completely counter to their own belief system. Feminists vs. fans of pornography. Vegans vs. carnivores. Half of the participants were asked to prepare comments for the speaker. The other half were asked to prepare a single question showcasing their natural curiosity about the speaker’s point of view (“Can you explain to me why the benefits of banning pornography outweigh the costs?”). What scientists found was that compared with people preparing comments, people armed with a single question viewed the message on the video as more intelligent and reasonable, viewed the speaker as more open-minded, and most promising, were more interested in meeting and getting to know the speaker in the future.

From Curiosity and the Chrysanthemum: Defuse Conflicts, Become a 

The study reveals powerful implications for leaders who are coaching others. When you foster your curiosity, you are more likely to view the person you are coaching as an intelligent and reasonable person. That one change in your viewpoint could be exactly what is needed to get a better outcome from your coaching efforts.

When you coach and mentor others, even if you need to move closer to discipline rather than coaching, work to maintain an attitude of curiosity about their reasoning, thoughts, and motivations. You will be a better coach and experience less conflicts when you make this effort.

Here are two other interesting posts I found on the power of curiosity…

How to be curious in conflict. Even when you don’t feel like it

The optimal state of mind for negotiating and resolving conflict isn’t certainty, it’s curiosity. Here’s how to be curious even when you don’t feel like it.

“I’m curious about what happened. Let’s talk!” …

Instead of silence or violence there is a third path, which in fact can transform conflict into a healthy outcome. This third path is the path of dialogue guided by what I call respectful curiosity. When we find ourselves having…

photo credit: the Italian voice via photopin cc