CNN's Harry Enten asks why we’re avoiding phone calls and whether we can be coached through our telephone-related nerves in this new Margins of Error podcast featuring Mary Jane. LISTEN HERE.

Have You Lost Your Curiosity?

One of the items on my wish list has been to talk to high school students about phone skills, and my wish came true this past week. I met with seventeen Grade 10 students at South Colchester Academy. It occurred to me that these young people could teach me as much, or more, about today’s communication skills as I could teach them. And that held true, particularly when it came to the art of conversation.

It happened during a listening game. Statistics and studies indicate that we spend 45% to 55% of our communication time listening, so it is definitely a focus of my workshops. When we listen well, we inspire conversation and build relationships.

In this particular game, everyone chooses a partner and one becomes the listener; they ask their partner a question. No matter how the partner answers, the listener must continue to ask questions based on the answer they receive. And, their questions must be open-ended.

There are a lot of different lessons in this exercise, but the one that surprises the majority of adults is how hard it is to create open-ended questions. They find themselves defaulting to questions that only require a “yes” or no”.

But the students? No problem at all. They easily filled the three minutes with question after question after question for their partners. And when I asked if they’d had any difficulty, they looked at me like, “What?”

While I haven’t found any statistics to back me up, my thought in that moment was, “Perhaps young people are more curious.” I thought about three-year-olds and how they ask questions all day long. They are constantly willing to feed their curiosity. Does this fade away with age?

And as I drove back to Halifax after the presentation I thought, “Perhaps our adult lives are so busy, we instinctively choose close-ended questions to save time?Given how overwhelmed most of us feel, this is entirely possible.

When we are genuinely curious about our prospects, clients and potential employers, they hear and experience our interest in them, our desire to create relationships.

So … how curious are you? Pay attention to the questions you are asking and let me know what you discover.


2 thoughts on “Have You Lost Your Curiosity?”

  1. What a great post!

    It brought back many memories of being in elementary school with my hand up constantly asking questions of the teacher. I’m pretty sure she and the other students got annoyed with me. Maybe our present-day school system drums out this natural curiosity from students?

    I still ask lots of questions and hopefully I’ve become a better listener.

    • I’m glad you didn’t let other people’s reactions shut down your curiosity. It plays such a vital role in the work that you do and your curiosity is always evident in your newsletter. And yes, when we ask lots of questions it’s important to be a good listener! Thanks for your comments Peggy!


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What's The Phone Lady doing?

  • One-on-one sales process creation with business owners/entrepreneurs
  • Sales training webinars with pharmaceutical outbound sales teams
  • Fundraising and sponsorship communication webinars with national team
  • Phone skills for job search with career-change organization
  • Sales training on outbound calls for financial advisors
  • Auditing phone conversations and creating phone communication protocols manual for Atlantic Canadian natural resource company
  • Custom communication workshop on the working with compassion, self-awareness, emotional triggers and detachment in both conversations and email for a Canadian university
  • Cold calling for lead generation marketing firm
  • Cold calling for corporate education specialist
  • Creating and delivering phone etiquette module for new industry-specific college

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