Embrace Curiosity and Connect With More People

January 20th, 2016 by Nick Notas 6 Comments

Be Curious


Over the last few years, my fiancée and I have met a lot of new people. And we’re genuinely curious and love discovering what makes people special.

After hanging out with new friends, we almost always enjoy talking about the cool things we learned from them.

“Tom has been working hard on his PhD in Neuroscience. His research on how drugs affect our brain chemistry is fascinating.” “Jamie just came back from Spain and told me about running with the bulls.” “Nicole and Austin told me about their dreams of opening up a progressive day care.”

Eventually, we both end up wondering, “Hey, did anyone ask us about us?”

Sadly, the answer is often…not really.

Now I don’t think that these people meant to ignore our good stories, but it does say something about how essential curiosity is to conversation. I’m experienced in asking probing questions that spur people to tell personal stories. Other people don’t always know how to do that.

What’s important to me is finding out who’s willing to invest back in me, and who’s worth building a stronger friendship with. Because when someone is curious to know more about your life, it shows that…

They care.

Showing a person that you give a shit about them is crucial to gaining their trust and interest. Being truly curious makes you stand out from the rest of the superficial crowd.

Why being curious is so important

Embracing an inquisitive nature does so much more for connections than most people realize. It…

  • Builds deep connections. People can sense genuine curiosity and will start to feel comfortable with you. They will actually share their true opinions, values, personality, and get into thought-provoking discussions. This is how you can move past small talk and build meaningful, mutual connections.
  • Gets you out of your head. If you’re truly interested in getting to know someone beyond surface-level, you’ll be able to ask more interesting questions (and cut through the same boring BS.) You have to pay attention and pose relevant, thought-provoking questions. This forces you to be a good, present listener and focus on the other person rather than worrying about what you’re going to say next.
  • Develops a confident mindset. When you’re curious about others, those people will to start reveal their true selves. This allows you to evaluate whether or not that person has the qualities you’re looking for in a connection. Only then can you choose if they’re a good fit for you instead of just trying to sell yourself. Which, in turn…
  • Gets people wanting to win your approval. This is especially true with attractive women. They’re used to guys trying to impress them. They have men flattering them endlessly, agreeing with everything, and trying to “act cool”. If you’re genuinely trying to evaluate what she’s about, she’ll sense your non-neediness and want to work for you.
  • Builds your interest in people you never imagined. I have so many people tell me everyone they meet is boring or not what they’re looking for. But that’s often because they don’t encourage others to open up so they miss out on their deep, creative, and emotional sides. Encouraging other people to be vulnerable is what makes them interesting!

Why curiosity fails for a lot of guys

When I present the power of curiosity to some people, they’re skeptical. They tell me that they already ask everybody tons of questions and it hasn’t gotten them anywhere. Their conversations are always about the same old boring topics.

If you feel this way, it’s because you’re going about being curious the wrong way. You usually sabotage yourself by doing one of these four things…

  1. Having ulterior motives. You’re not actually excited about getting to know other people’s stories and what makes them unique.

    Instead, you’re secretly focused on seeking approval and being liked. You don’t care about the girl’s personality, you just want to get her number and get laid. Or you just ask questions to be polite while dominating the conversation.

    Again, people can sense genuine curiosity and will have a difficult time opening up to you if you’re being insincere. You need to reframe your mindset when meeting people from, “Do they like me?” or “How can I get something out of them?” to…

    “Who are they?”

    Solution: Go out and make it your goal for the night to learn something interesting about each person you meet. You’re not allowed to try for numbers, go for a kiss, or try to be the center of attention. You have to encourage them to hold the majority of the conversation.

  2. Not knowing what to ask. Some people are really interested in others but have no idea where to start. You need to do two things: listen well and know what the hell you’re excited to learn about. The more you actually care about the subject matter, the easier it is to come up with engaging questions.

    Solution: Since there’s a lot to be said about being present in the moment, I suggest you check out my articles here and here as well as the book Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane.

    As for knowing what to ask…write down 5-10 subjects that you’re very passionate about. From those ideas, start generating a list of questions that get onto those subjects. Use this article for questions to reference.

  3. Interviewing people. You ask dead-end questions that result in yes or no answers. And when you get an answer, you just follow up with another generic yes or no question.

    Being curious doesn’t mean you go on a question spree. It means asking people to open up and then relating back to them using your own statements, too. You have a voice, so use it.

    Solution: Start by only using open-ended questions that require a more substantial response from people. That will get them to reveal more about themselves and provide more content that you can build from.

    Next, practice limiting yourself to one or two questions in a row. Once you ask a question and you get an answer from the other person, you must reply with a statement. You could provide some cool relevant insight, make an observation, compliment them, give your opinion on what they tell you, crack a joke, or share a related story.

    Playing improv games or joining an improv class is great for this, too. It builds your wit and makes you respond more naturally.

  4. Staying on surface level. After the normal small talk of careers, hobbies, food, etc — your questions should get more personal. Otherwise the conversation stagnates and you don’t hit that next-level bond with people.

    Solution: You need to be willing to get intimate. You need to practice asking about people’s true passions, fears, unconventional opinions, secrets, dark side humor, and yes, their sexuality (if it’s someone you’re interested in). You need to be bold.

    That means being vulnerable with them and sharing your intimate details, too.

    Let’s talk about how to put this into practice.

Putting curiosity into practice

Get creative with what you want to discover about people. I’d rather you practice asking forward, off-the-wall, or challenging questions than staying timid and never getting anywhere substantial. Be curious about…

Their relationship with their family. What was it like growing up as an only child? Now that they’ve moved away from their parents — how do they deal with being home sick? What adventures did they used to have with their siblings?

Their best friend. Why is that person their best friend? What makes them hold such a special place in their heart? How did they meet? How has their friend changed them as an individual? What’s the most important value or idea they’ve learned from them?

Their experimentation (or lack thereof) with drugs. What was their most memorable experience? What was their worst? Have they ever had a sexual experience heightened by a drug? What profound realizations, if any, have they had while using psychedelics?

Their take on self-improvement and their own development. Do they believe people can truly change or are they set in their ways? How do they deal with those who’ve wronged them? How have they grown as a person in the last 3 years? What fascinates them about the human mind? Do they care about changing the world or would they rather do your own thing?

Their views on personal freedom. How much privacy do you value vs having someone watch over us to protect us from terrorists? Should people be allowed to put whatever they want into their body?

Their sexuality and views on sex. What’s something other people may see as odd or strange but turns you on? What was a pickup line that actually worked on them? How soon is too soon to have sex with someone you like? How do they feel about someone who embraces promiscuity and wants casual sex?

Their current job. Besides what they do, what’s the most rewarding part of their career? What are the challenges they face regularly? What’s a project they worked on recently that they’re really proud of?

Their actual passion. Is it their current career or something else? Would they take less money if it meant higher fulfillment? What are they doing to work towards having that passion as an option?

Their travels. Are they more of a historian, beach goer, or wild adventurer? What lessons have they learned from other cultures? Has any place had a profound life-changing impact on them? What’s the one place they would keep going back to, and why?

Their niche hobbies or interests. What’s their guilty pleasure they spend their free time on? What eclectic art or food do they enjoy? What are they into that few other people have even heard of?

Their fears or insecurities. What is something they’re irrationally afraid of even though they know logically they shouldn’t be? What fears have they recently challenged themselves to overcome?

Their beliefs on love and relationships. What do they think constitutes true love? Does love at first sight exist and have they experienced it? Does the honeymoon period in a relationship have to end? What’s the 3 most important qualities they need in a partner?

Think about how it feels when you have someone who really cares for you. How do you think other people will feel when they can tell you truly want to get to know them?

If you want to create more connections with more people, you just need to ask the right questions. Indulge your sense of wonder and be curious.

  1. Sam on January 20, 2016

    I'm always worried about getting too personal and pissing someone off. I can see how that doesn't work in the grand scheme of things though. Guess I'll have to man up and throw out some hard hitting questions.

    • Nick Notas on January 20, 2016

      Yeah, there’s definitely a line but it’s much further than you probably think it is. It’s also really hard to gauge until you push a bit too far. It’s easier to scale back and figure out a nice middle ground than to try and assume where that line is by being tame.

  2. Olaf Rogness on January 20, 2016

    I think I have the opposite problem, I’m a good listener and have no problem motivating the other party to talk. When asked about myself though I’m often at a loss for words.

    • Mark on January 27, 2016

      Hey Olaf,
      I used to have exactly the same problem. I felt a bit uncomfortable talking about myself. I also realized that often I was just terrified to be open because I thought it was too forward. I would be listening to this beautiful girl talk about her trip to Spain, or her job and how she enjoyed it. I couldn’t help thinking “wow she has this smile and beautiful energy when she talks about the things she enjoys”. I would let that thought stick in my head because I was afraid to say it. But when I realized being vulnerable and open required me to express that thought, things changed dramatically for the better. Instead of feeling awkward after telling her how attractive she was to me at that moment, I found it put me in the right vibe to also be open about my own self. Not only the facts and stories, but also the feelings that I had for those things. Watch yourself next time you are asking and listening to see if maybe there is something you want to say but are afraid to express. It could be the key to an amazing connection. Words spoken by the heart are often heard by the heart. 😉

      • Olaf Rogness on February 9, 2016

        Hey Mark,

        That’s an interesting way to go about it. I will try to put myself in the moment more often in the future. Perhaps that will allow me to converse more naturally with people and express myself. Sorry for the late reply and thank you for the advice, it just may be the one I needed.

  3. Pablo Roufogalis on January 20, 2016

    Well, first of all, congratulations on the engagement is on the way, your last post didn’t mention an engagement. As curious as I am, I find myself in situations where either people just want to kinda feed a negative energy, complain about stuff or trash talk someone and I don’t like it, so I get stuck, at a loss for words, tell myself it’s better to be quiet rather than say something that feeds that attitude. It’s that or they’re stuck on their cellphones, I just go away from those people.