Dave Schools recently wrote an article for Forge entitled“The 2-Word Trick That Makes Small Talk Interesting.”The two words are, “I’m curious …”

Dave points out that some of the best interviewers use this phrase to draw information out of people. Why does it work?

It digs. It dives. It shovels into motivations, personal history, the human psyche. It communicates that the listener is interested, open and even eager to hear more about something important in the other person.

It’s a way to get beyond small talk, below the surface, into an interesting dialogue.

Another version of this is, “I’m really interested in …”

The trick really isn’t in the words; it’s in being really interested in other people. To be inquisitive, to be big eyes over another, to be socially investigative — it’s a treasure hunt. People are fascinating. Everyone has a story, a human narrative, even a universal narratology — now there’s the thing, bang, cha-ching!

I once met a young Muslim woman at a conflict resolution training in downtown San Diego. We went out to lunch with some people for sushi, and I got her talking about her faith. It actually lead to me visiting her Mosque. It opened my mind to new things. .

In the last few years I met some people who build houses for families in Mexico. I expressed interest. I asked questions. The result was that I ended up as part of a team who built a house for a family in Tijuana.

It was an amazing experience, super touching when we handed the keys to a new, furnished home to a family who had been living in a 6×8 foot shed with their new baby. One of the leaders of the trip is still one of my good friends.

Once I called the contractor to do some stucco work. Someone had mentioned to me that he was a Christian and did good work. We hit it off on the phone. He told me about his family and about his passion to help people. He came and stuccoed a new retaining wall at my church and the marquee sign — all for minimal cost.

Why? We went beyond small talk. We connected. I was interested in him and he in me.

On 13 March 1781 William Herschel made note of a new object in the constellation of Gemini. It was Uranus, the first planet to be discovered since antiquity and Herschel became famous overnight. He was appointed Court Astronomer. He was elected to the Royal Society and grants were provided for the construction of new telescopes.

There are more new planets to be discovered, human planets, fascinating people who might eventually orbit around us and add so much to us.

The fruits of curiosity — they’re good!

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