• Deirdre O'Sullivan

Stay curious: The importance of asking questions

My two-year-old niece has a new favourite activity: pulling books from the shelves. She flicks through the pages naming things she sees. The other day she pulled out a big hardback book that chronicles each year of the 20th century in detail; I remember devouring that book when I was a child. Even as a kid, I was never into stories or fairy tales – I wanted facts and I wanted answers.

Soon my niece will be three. Anyone who knows a three or four-year-old will be familiar with the endless barrage of questions they come out with. Some studies show four-year-olds ask as many as 200 to 300 questions a day. While it can be frustrating for us, isn’t it cool that children have realised that by asking questions they can learn, understand and navigate the huge learning curve they are under?

The importance of asking questions

So why do we stop asking questions? It might be that we don’t want to annoy people, or we want them to think we have it all under control. But it is said that the smartest people in the room are usually the ones asking the questions, not the ones giving the answers.

The work that I do at Pluto requires me to be curious and ask lots of questions. Most people who end up in strategy are curious by nature. When I was learning to drive I wanted to know “why do you have to go down the gears when slowing down?”. My poor disgruntled Dad told me that I didn’t need to know why and to just do it! But asking the right questions helps us in so many ways. It can help us form strong relationships, build emotional intelligence, avoid rushing to conclusions and it ultimately opens our mind to new understanding. When confronted with almost any demanding situation, in work or life, asking questions can help guide us to smart decisions and a sensible course of action.

At Pluto we are tasked with creating connections that stick for our clients. To achieve that, we need to know about the audiences we’re speaking to. We need to be curious to learn about them and to find out what makes them tick.

Remaining Curious

I think everyone should feed their curiosity! Watch documentary series, listen to podcasts, browse YouTube, scroll TikTok, read books and magazines, visit new places, earwig on people’s conversations on the bus… open yourself to the world and people around you.

I’ve actually found comfort in my curiosity over the last few years. I’ve never been very sure what I wanted to do, but one thing I’ve figured out is that you don’t need to know for sure. You just need follow the trail of curiosity to find out more and it will lead you to exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Deirdre is a Strategic Content Director at Pluto

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