Speaker Series Recap: Scott Shigeoka

Mandisa Thomas
February 16, 2024

About the January session. The key insight that Scott shared from his book research is that in so many settings, people want to feel like they belong. Celebrity interviewees most often ask, afterward, “was that ok”? People want to feel seen, like they matter, like they belong. Scott noted that a heart-centered curiosity can often help support that sense of belonging. 

According to Scott Shigeoka and his book Seek, heart-centered curiosity strengthens relationships, helps deescalate conflict, decreases anxiety, and increases intimacy, compassion, creativity, and the quality of collaboration. Deep curiosity is characterized by open-ended questions, and an engaged following of details and intersections for understanding. Doing heart-centered curiosity work is aligned with the prioritizing and deepening of our relationships. 

Scott distinguished heart-centered curiosity from shallow curiosity, which often uses logic, closed-ended questions, and identity to validate instead of challenge one’s own assumptions about their counterpart. He also distinguished heart-centered curiosity from “predatory curiosity,” which he coined to describe when a conversation partner asks questions with an agenda, asking not in order to understand their counterpart but with the intention to change them. 

Scott noted many valid impediments to heart-centered curiosity, including past traumas as well as fear of conflict, failure, change, and the unknown. 

Scott offered much advice for how we might deepen our curiosity practice, including: 

    1. Understand my power in relation to my counterparts to determine how to structure conversations to undermine that relational power. When I have more social power in a room, my job is to be more curious and to listen. If I have less power, my perspective which may be typically marginalized should take a more central role. 
    2. Reflect on, name, and work to counter our assumptions, especially when we feel heated in a disagreement. 
    3. Embrace my inner doula, practicing the important work of noticing, understanding, and reflecting back the experience of my counterpart. In conversation, my curiosity work does not demand that I problem-solve or fix my counterpart’s experience. Rather, my job is to be present and engaged with whatever they want me to know. This closeness further activates each other’s engagement with the moment and draws us closer to each other.
    4. Reflect on the values and beliefs that help me to cultivate my boundaries. Remember as a practicer and a receiver of deep curiosity that curiosity alone does not entitle a person to the information we seek. Understanding and an invitation to question is earned through trust. 

This summary only scratches the surface of what Scott shared in our session together and is much further elaborated in his book. Each of the above recommendations come from extensive stories that Scott learns from. I encourage you to read SEEK and to follow Scott Shigeoka to see how his ideas evolve. Thank you Scott for such a thoughtful kick-off to our 2024 speaker series. 

This session was not recorded! Join us on our next event to meet other world changers and to hear insights from our guest speakers. 

About the February session. On Monday February 26, 2024, at 3pm, celebrated researcher, attorney, and activist Ifeomasinachi Ike will offer an interactive session helping participants implement insights from her recent book The Equity Mindset: Designing Human Spaces Through Journeys, Reflections and Practices. Ifeoma will help us cultivate the intentional practices that support our decision-making and actions in the moments when equity is at stake. All are welcome. Register for the 2024 speaker series here