Quentin Hafner

The #1 Superpower in Relationships

One of the benefits of constantly being in powerful and life-changing dialogue with two young boys, is that I’m continually challenged by my sons to look at my own deficiencies.

Most of the time they challenge me directly by angrily confronting me, which is the biggest gift children can give their parents because it eliminates all the guesswork. Kids don’t know how to be passive aggressive, thank the Lord. In either case, once the bruising of my ego subsides for blowing it as a parent, I always try to look at what went wrong and fail forward.

By nature, I have a personality & temperament that lends itself to often be quiet, contemplative, and introspective. I can’t help but to get lost in my thinking about solving the world’s problems, which can make me not present to them, when they need me to be.

This part of my personality works well when the time is right, but not so well at other times, as I can be perceived by my sons as being distant, aloof, not present, or disengaged. Just the other morning, my son wanted to show me something majestic he built with his Legos as I was in my office investing all my mental bandwidth trying to solve big problems in the world.

So, to try and appease both of us, I gave him an unenthusiastic nod of approval, and said,

“That looks good, good job”, with the hopes that would be enough and he would be on his way.

My son replied with a powerful disdain,

“You’re being too quiet. You need to ask me questions…”

My lack of presence was off-putting, and causing him to feel like he was alone in his excitement. And the truth is, he was alone. I was present in body, but not in spirit. I was not engaged with curiosity and awe.

Moving past the shame of being a clueless dad, I realized that many men in relationships find themselves stuck in a similar pattern; missing the #1 superpower in their most important relationships;

Curiosity and Awe

What does Curiosity and Awe look like?

Naturally, many people want to know, “What do I do to display curiosity and awe with people that matter most to me?” Here is a quick example of what it could look like:

Partner: “I had a horrible day with the kids today

Curiosity and Awe Response: “Really?!?! I’m so sorry to hear that. Can you tell me about it?” “What was it like for you?”

Partner: “I’m want to go play golf this Saturday

Curiosity and Awe Response: “You really love playing golf. I’m thrilled you have a hobby you enjoy so much. Tell me what it is about golf that you love so much?”

Curiosity and awe responsiveness invites your people to tell you more about them, and it’s the single biggest superpower we can display in relationships. We are showing that we genuinely would like to know them – more deeply. When we don’t engage our special people with curiosity and awe, they can feel unimportant, uncared for, and alone – like my son felt with me.


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Why is this important?

Listening is much more than being a passive participant. Developing curiosity and awe is essential because it shows other people that we are genuinely trying our best to understand their experience, at a meaningful level. It can be incredibly invalidating to share something with someone and have them sit quietly without participating. When we don’t have curiosity and awe with our special people they feel uncared for.

Why this is hard…

First, to have curiosity and awe with our partners, it requires us to be very present and engaged – and that can be difficult depending on what’s vying for our attention.

Secondly, depending on our own histories and experiences, depending on what curiosity and awe was like for us growing up, we simply might not even know how.

And third, our temperament and personality play a role in our ability to develop curiosity and awe with our partners.

It sounds simple right? Engaging our most important people with curiosity and awe can be very difficult because it requires us to have the mental capacity, uncluttered minds, and emotional freedom to step outside ourselves and focus totally, completely, solely, on someone else.

And lastly, if you ever feel stuck but want to be more curious, you can always say the most powerful five words to win at the game of curiosity and awe:

Tell. Me. More. About. That.

Today – make it a point to up-level your closest relationships by the amount of curiosity and awe you can generate.

Are you ready to take your relationship to a new level? Check out my newest Amazon.com Best-Selling book, Go Next-Level!

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