The Advantages & Disadvantages of Being Curious at Workplace

by Emma • Fri, 26 Jul 2019 05:39AM
The Advantages & Disadvantages of Being Curious at Workplace


Why can’t we change how we work? Why can’t we have a shorter meeting? Why does the boss always look grumpy on Monday? Why do you set your desk like that? Why should we do this task this way or why should we do it your way?

How being curious benefits you

Since childhood, we constantly ask ‘why’ to fulfil our thirst for knowledge and information about our surroundings. Even during adulthood, our curious minds remain intact. We can learn and retain information better if we become a curious person. A study by Ranganath showed that human brain can retain information better if we are curious about it. Ranganath monitored participant’s brain activity and found that the area of the brain regulates pleasure and reward when the participants' curiosity was piqued. There is also increased activity in the hippocampus, the area that is involved in the creation of memories. This suggested that curiosity helps our brain manage information better, thus we can remember the information better.

See also: How Does Caffeine Affect Your Body & Resilience?

Not only is being curious good for our brain, study by George Loewenstein found that employees who are curious will be a better employee. You will add value by demonstrating your thirst for knowledge in the workplace. According to the study, curiosity is an indication of creative thinkers, implying that you can creatively look beyond the present and imagine possible futures of your company. Being curious could also help you produce out-of-the-box ideas and insights for organisation. Therefore, your value and quality within an organisation could improve too.

Another advantage of being curious is that curiosity can actually promote a cognitive process that leads to a greater capacity for personal development. As a result, you will be more open to other’s point of view as you have knowledge about “why different people give different opinions”. It also means that you will be an attentive listener. And being a good listener means you can authentically examine and decide which opinion or assumption you should follow, even in a tough situation. So, curiosity helps you thrive in a tough work environment.

The downfall

Curiosity, nonetheless, can also create a great barrier between you and success in the workplace. The most noticeable thing is that being too curious in workplace might worsen your relationship with others. For example, you ask too many questions to Susan. Rather than fulfilling your desire to know the right information, Susan will think that you are too noisy and might keep a distance from you.

In addition, you might also suffer from “curiosity failure” (expressing curiosity in the wrong way). Francesca Gino, a behavioural scientist and professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, in her research found that if curiosity arises, making and executing decision will slow down. If there are too many questions, you might ask the status quo and it will not always produce useful information. Owing to these reasons, leaders might limit their employees to explore their interest in workplace. Thusly, you might suffer from micromanagement.


The bottom line is that being curious is important to our life. It widens our knowledge and helps our brain functions better. However, you should keep in mind to limit your curiosity because being too curious or asking too much can lead to nosiness which in turn, people will refer you as annoying instead of intelligence. So, here are tips to avoid nosiness and to create effective curiosity.  

  • Don’t ask too many questions at the same time, especially if they are personal questions.
  • Do value your co-workers time and ask what’s necessary to ask at that time.
  • Don’t force people to give you information they don’t want to tell by asking questions that will lead to that information.
  • In the workplace, it is better to not ask a question just to fulfil your curiosity, do ask when you desire to find out the truth or other’s viewpoints.
  • Most importantly, think before you ask. Ask yourself questions such as is it necessary? Why should I ask this? If I am in her or his position, would I want to be asked this question? This is important to avoid misunderstanding.

Next read: Do Motivational Posters at Work Really Make an Impact?


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