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Be Curious not Furious

How this little phrase might help improve our relationships and dialogue with others. When it was shared with me it made me reflect on how I am and what happens if I'm furious not curious?


I was giving someone a lift the other day and we were talking about parenting and the challenges it can sometimes bring as well as the delights and joy.

I shared a story that I had seen on social media about a boy who at primary school had continually tapped while in the classroom. The teachers had told him of and told him to stop the head teacher had suggested he sit on his hands to stop him doing it, which didn’t work either. And then one day a teacher asked him to stay behind at the end of the lesson. In this conversation the teacher gave him a set of drumsticks and encouraged him to play the tunes he heard in his head with the sticks. By this teacher being curious as to what the tapping might be about, he helped the boy appreciate his talent and ability and see it as a gift not a problem. That boy is now a successful drummer and makes his living from drumming all over the world. 

After I’d shared this story Rachel shared something that has been floating around in my head since then. She’d heard something that someone had said in connection with children – “be curious not furious” wow I thought. How many times as a mum, when I wasn’t so aware of the things I know now, had I lept to the judgemental position that my child was naughty and therefore got a telling off before I’d explored and been curious to understand what was going on for them. 

What a shift my current life has, as a coach we are really curious about what a client tells us not in a nosey way, in a way that helps them explore things for themselves and understand things from different perspectives, that helps them notice things that may be from the past that still influence them today. We encourage our clients to be curious about themselves and notice and explore things both in themselves and others. 

The phrase has floated around in my head as it’s a great reminder to us all to suspend our emotion and the behaviour that comes with that when we’ve jumped to a conclusion about something. Those things that others do that might frustrate or annoy us or when people do things out of character that we might not do that then triggers an annoyance. I caught myself the other day with just one of those things. A client didn’t show up for their session and I had no response when I phoned and emailed. A couple of hours later I stepped away from the place of frustration to one of curiosity was there a reason why I’d had no contact, what did I know about what was going on for them that I knew about, what didn’t I know about. It is from this position that I sent a note of concern and support.   

When I saw the client a couple of weeks later, they explained what had been going on for them at the time of the session and apologised. It’s not for me to share the detail, however I am pleased I switched to curiosity rather than annoyance which enabled me to be supportive and caring which is what the client needed at that moment and I would have pretty awful about myself if I’d been “furious not curious”.

 So, thank you Rachel, the phrase you shared “Be Curious not Furious” is one of my new mantras which I’m sure will guide me wisely to more helpful thoughts and outcomes

Julie Hickton

Julie Hickton

Managing Director

With over 25 years working with people and organisations as an executive coach, HR Director and mum, I have an excellent understanding of people and what they need to enable them to reach their full potential and have high levels of psychological wellbeing. We all have the ability to develop and grow, coaching provides an excellent opportunity to support individuals and teams achieve their aspirations and raise their levels of happiness. Interested in reading more about who I am and how I work...... Trained as an executive coach, therapeutic coach, team coach, thinking partner. Expertise and trained in; positive psychology, emotional intelligence, compassion and self compassion, various psychometric tools, NLP and therapeutic coaching.

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