By April M. Stewart, Special MWAF Contributor
Curiosity is one of those enduring human traits stemming from our prehistoric survival skills.
Evolutionarily speaking, being inquisitive helped us understand our environment: Was that berry good for us? If so, were other berries of the same colour safe to eat as well? (Unfortunately for some early humans, the answer to this was ‘no’.)
Biologically, curiosity gives us a boost: whenever we learn something new, brain circuits follow the reward path which emits dopamine, the feel-good chemical. We are hardwired to want to know things; we like the rush.
Curiosity is “the desire to learn or know about anything.” To have a questioning, learning mindset will help you fill knowledge gaps and open your mind to conversational opportunities. By discovering the “unfamiliar in the familiar”, you’ll be better equipped to avoid assumptions and suspend judgements and stereotypes, both major blocks to effective farm to consumer conversations.
How can we cultivate higher levels of curiosity?
Here are three ways that you can harness the power of curiosity for better farm to consumer conversations:
As a trust building tool: Curiosity means you’ll ask more questions as you try to understand, for example, why a consumer believes what they do. Asking questions will help you to think more deeply about other perspectives. Empathy and curiosity are, therefore, intertwined. Consequently, curiosity helps you come from a place of friend rather than foe, and will help you to establish credibility and trust.
As a conflict resolution tool: It is often difficult to listen to others with opposing points of view but being curious about another viewpoint enables you to walk the proverbial mile in their shoes. Once you gain a better understanding of their point of view, it’s much easier to work from the same playbook towards a winning goal.
As a decision-making tool: “When curiosity is triggered, we think more deeply and rationally about decisions and [are] less likely to fall prey to confirmation bias and stereotyping.” Better decision-making processes = better decisions. In terms of the farm to consumer convo, this means consciously deciding to smash assumptions when it comes to defining consumers and their rationale, less biased approaches to communication, and more opportunities to initiate conversations.
Curiosity, like critical thinking, can be nurtured and developed. It will help you feel more engaged, make more connections between concepts, and experience more moments of insight and meaning.
Work on making curiosity one of your superpowers!
 The Power of Curiosity, Todd Kashdan https://experiencelife.com/article/the-power-of-curiosity/
 “The Business Case for Curiosity”. https://hbr.org/2018/09/curiosity