Curiosity at work is valued when used wisely.


Curiosity is a trait that job seekers often highlight in their CVs or cover letters.

But a series of studies conducted by Harvard Business Review has shown that this attribute can be a double-edged sword in the workplace; as for managers it can be both useful and a source of annoyance.

To reach this conclusion, an American research team conducted three separate experiments.

The first involved over 900 employees and leaders working for three companies in different sectors (human resources, sales and service, manufacturing); the second involved 400 master’s students; and the third involved 528 working people employed in two companies, one specialising in information technology and the other in management consulting.

These three studies sought to assess how curiosity is perceived in the professional sphere. All three studies indicated that employees with this personality trait are often seen by their supervisors as insubordinate.

This negative view tends to dissipate, however, when the curious are able to demonstrate a certain political acumen in the workplace.

But what exactly does that mean? People who are “politically skilled” at work know how to adapt to their professional environment by taking into account the expectations of others, while expressing their expectations in a constructive way.

Although it sometimes gets conflated with being manipulative, this form of social awareness requires diplomacy, initiative and… curiosity.

Curiosity should be expressed in a constructive manner

Curiosity in the workplace is appreciated when expressed constructively. A study by the Harvard Business Review revealed that participants judged a “curious” individual more harshly than a politically skilled counterpart. However, this doesn’t imply that curiosity is detrimental; rather, it should be channeled appropriately. Managers should encourage team curiosity as a valuable soft skill, fostering knowledge enrichment and problem-solving, as long as it’s expressed without fear of reprisal.

Curious about Curiosity #3: Impact of Curiosity

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