Curios: Michaele Antoine is Helping People Connect Through Real Conversation

Why is having hard conversations… so hard? Michaele Antoine is helping people say what needs to be said with their full chests through her organization, Curios.

curios
Michaele Antoine

Words by Laura Lorta

The picture has one word, written in a way I’d never seen before: c – urios.

Beneath it, the caption reads:

“We ALL have a conversation that we’re hesitant to have, for one reason or another, with someone else or maybe even with ourselves. But what would happen if we started to be really curious about how, when, and what to say when the time came to dig in?”

I found this picture on Instagram, posted just a few days after the first-ever Curios discussion, facilitated by its founder, creator and nurturer, Michaele Antoine. This event, which took place in November of 2019, was a meta-conversation about why having conversations about difficult topics is so hard.

As a lover of deep, impactful conversations myself, I was immediately drawn to everything that Curios stands for and wanted to be a part of it. After my first conversation with Michaele, I knew that more than just supporting her vision, I needed to go one step further and tell the world about it, too.

Who is Michaele Antoine?

According to the quick bio on the Curios website, Michaele is a Montreal-born, Miami-bred conversation enthusiast with a passion for intentional conversations about topics that have sociocultural and organizational impact. She has quite the impressive educational and professional background in fields like higher education, event planning/management and content creation (to name just a few), and has worked in Residential Education, managing crises and supervising staff and student programs at the university level, and even spent a couple of years working with none other than Tony Robbins (when she told me this part, I fan-girled a little).

Michaele’s educational and professional background are impressive, no doubt, but what stands out most about her to me is the fact that even throughout her success, she still felt called to do more, and not just for herself, but for this big, beautiful, chaotic mess we call a society.

“The Name Came to Me First…”

When asked where Curios came from, Michaele responded by telling me that she thought of the idea while taking a trip shortly after her time working with Tony Robbins. “At the time, I needed a break from the work I was doing and I kept thinking ‘What could I do? What am I good at?” The name came to her first, no doubt sparked by her life experiences, constantly wanting to learn and discover more about the world and the people who inhabit it.

Then she realized that all of her life experiences had one thing in common, a thin “veil of dishonesty and fear that permeates every conversation,” which manifests as politics in the workplace and being ‘nice’ and ‘polite’ in our personal lives. Deciding that she was fed up with missing on the full experience of human connection, she created Curios as a way to help people – both in their personal and professional lives – learn to have honest, impactful conversations about difficult topics.

curios | michaele antoine

What Does “Take the Training Wheels Off Talk” Mean?

There is no denying that in 2020 the world was on fire. While some of the events that dominated the year were due to forces beyond human control (it starts with a C and ends with OVID), there were more than a few that both began and were escalated by the fact that human beings simply don’t know how to talk to one another.

More importantly, human beings don’t know how to listen to one another.

It’s not entirely our fault. For centuries, everyone was taught that certain topics were taboo, risque…whatever label you’d like to use for unacceptable. Real, deep conversations of substance were to be had only in closed, trusted circles, and never beyond the four walls of your home. That may have worked fine in the past –  as long as everyone kept things light, nice and polite, then we’d all get along fine.

Except we weren’t fine, not all of us. And so the groups of people who were unsatisfied started speaking out, first individually, then in masses, and since we were never taught how to disagree, we simply shut out opinions that don’t match our own. We label people who speak out against injustices or who simply choose to express themselves in a way other than the societally prescribed “appropriate” way as “weird” or “difficult”.

If all conversations stay on the surface level, then how can we create the deep, human connections that our souls crave? How can we ever expect to understand each other, and really work together for the betterment of our world if we never get beyond the societally-prescribed niceties? The only way to truly affect change is for enough people who want the same things to come together and work for it. In a world where we have all of the resources we could possibly want and then some, the one thing we lack is the thing we need the most – genuine human connection.

In Michaele’s words, “we’re capable of curiosity, bravery, and intentionality – we just need some guidance and practice doing so.” The goal of Curios and its motto to take the training wheels off talk is to do better than ‘nice’ and ‘polite’ by giving people the tools they need to have difficult conversations, with the goal of acknowledging, understanding and respecting the differences that may arise from it between two or more people.

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…but how?

The overarching aim of Curios is to “create brave dialogues that allow for the exploration of the differing.” This is accomplished through three different facets of the company:

Coaching

Finding your personal voice and learning to say what you mean, whether in front of an audience or in your day-to-day experiences, is a lifelong journey. Some people are born knowing exactly what to say and others have to work at it. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall on, having guidance will help you gain the confidence to not only find your voice but learn to use it.

Corporate Communication

Nowhere is ‘nice’ and ‘polite’ more dominant than in the workplace. Many corporations still have the old school mentality of top-down management and communication, which is not only outdated, but exclusionary. Organizations that aim to create and maintain a culture of teamwork, psychological safety, and honesty can and should incorporate workshops that provide the tools to communicate on a vulnerable, respectful, and impactful level.

Pop-Up Experiences

This is where it all began, just a little over a year ago, when Michaele hosted a meta-conversation about why talking about difficult topics – race, identity, politics – is so hard. These types of events cover all subjects, from organizational hierarchy to pornography, in a group setting.

The Future of Curios

This organization has already accomplished so much in such a short amount of time, but there are more opportunities ahead. When I asked Michaele about what she sees for the future, she told me that growing the community is on the top of the priority list, along with a podcast, a yearly retreat, and raising funds to facilitate her business’ growth and financial stability.

Working With Curios

If you are interested in living a life led by curiosity, where you can engage in healthy discourse about all the things that matter today, then Curios can help, and getting connected is super simple. Visit the Curios website and schedule a discovery session – a quick chat about your goals and how she can help facilitate their accomplishment.

The world needs more organizations like this one, and more brave souls like Michaele to bring them to life. With Curios, you’ll laugh, learn and be educated, all while making space for inevitable triggers and be better for it.


Follow Michaele on her journey. Visit the Curios website and follow her on Instagram.

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