How curious are you?

Episode 33 in Part 3 of our Introduction series: Getting to know others.

Habits:  Be curious | Ongoing Learning

Skills:  Relationships | Empathy | Communication

Description:  In this episode, we discuss building great relationships and explain how to get to know people better through the concepts of curiosity, empathy and listening. We highlight Julian Treasure's RASA concept for learning to listen more attentively to help you improve your conversations with anyone.


How this lesson might be applied in the classroom

This episode outlines the importance being curious about others in order to develop good relationships with a wide range of people. 

We touch on the importance of empathy to connect with others, suggesting that being interested in others – their experiences, opinions and perspectives – is key to developing quality relationships. But we also outline that being interested in someone else so you ask good questions is not enough, you also need to listen to – and be genuinely interested in – their answers.

To help improve student conversation skills, in particular their listening abilities, we introduce Julian Treasure's acronym, R.A.S.A.

  • Receive: Paying close attention to what is being said.

  • Appreciate: Making simple sounds and gestures to show that you are listening and appreciating what's being said.

  • Summarize: Simply summarizing back what's been said to show you've listened and understood.

  • Ask: Asking more questions after the person has finished speaking that can further improve your understanding.

When discussing this episode, some questions might include:

  • Do you believe that being more curious can help you build better relationships? Why/Why not?

  • How can empathy help your relationships with other people?

  • What do you think might stop you from getting to know others better?

  • Do you think that it's important to have good relationships with people? Why/Why not?

  • Are there any people that you wouldn't need to have good relationships with? Why/Why not?

  • Of the four steps in the R.A.S.A. idea, which do you think would be the hardest to do? Receive, Appreciate, Summarize or Ask?

Some specific discussion points

Discussion of any literary works, historical figures, or current events featuring prominent individuals offers an opportunity to discuss how being curious and having empathy might support the relationships and communication outcomes for different people? For example, how might having more empathy change the way that Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton approached the U.S. 2016 Presidential race. 

Questions may include:

  • When you think of empathy, which person immediately comes to mind? Why them?

  • How has having empathy helped this person in their life?

  • Who comes to mind when you think of someone with great relationships? Why?

  • How does having good relationships help them in their life?

  • Does your person with strong empathy or relationships have any other character traits which help them? Which ones.

  • How do their other traits support their empathy or relationships?

  • Do you think that really listening to other people is difficult or easy? Why/Why not?

  • Are there times when it's okay, or even good, to not have empathy for others? Why/Why not?

Discussing the quote from this episode:

"Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn't listening." — Emma Thompson

Possible areas of discussion may include:

  • Do you believe that bad communication is the source of any problem in a family? Why/Why not?

  • Does this just apply to families, or could it (does it) apply to any other form of relationship? Why/Why not?

  • Do you believe that the problems arise because 'someone isn't listening'? Why/Why not?

  • Why do you think Emma Thompson thinks that listening is so important?

  • How does listening relate to empathy for others and having great relationships?

  • What action could you take today to improve your listening skills?

Further information on this topic

If you'd like to dive a bit deeper on this topic, you might be interested in watching:


Julian Treasure: 5 Ways To Listen Better


Or you may like to read:

Empathy: Why It Matters, And How To Get It.
Roman Krznaric, 2014.

Please let us know how we could improve this episode?

We're always keen to hear how our work can be improved. If you can think of anything we can do to improve either the delivery of our content, the content itself, the exercises, or our guides to how the lesson can be applied in the classroom, please let us know.