"Out of curiosity..."
To begin a line of questioning this way implies that we a springing out of a place: curiosity.
What could that space – curiosity – mean?
I think it means that we are engaging in a purer, more ennobling form of questioning. Questions that come out of curiosity are the types of questions we ask when we don't have an agenda. They are the questions we ask when we are thirsty for knowledge, embarking on a journey from one space (curiosity) to another (learning).
Our questions can have other positive orientations besides curiosity, like love, or helpfulness.
How, then, can we encourage the better springs of inquiry?
Much of it has to do with pausing. Before we ask a question, we can examine its origin. Is it coming out of curiosity or spite? Kindness or sabotage? We can choose from what mental space our questions flow from.
In doing so, we also dictate the form and beauty of the answer. Those nourished by questions asked out of curiosity will more likely choose the generous response. Downstream, a beautiful response might lead to more beautiful questions.
The next time you ask a question, ask it from the best place you know inside yourself.