Abuja (Precise Post) – As a young President of a campus group, I paid a condolence visit to a friend and fellowship member who had just lost her dad. I said “you know, the Bible says, if you fail in the day of adversity, your strength is little”. I‘ll never forget her response.
She goes “Kola, please don’t preach AT me. I know the scripture and yes, I am failing and my strength is little. I didn’t ask you to come so you could TALK to me. I asked you to come so you could LISTEN to me”. My goodness, that experience changed me forever.
That was about 18yrs ago. As I grew and mature in the things of God, advocacy work or business, I have discovered the power in actively listening to people. I’ve sat down for more than 5hrs and listened to someone talk himself out of suicide. I’ve sat down for hrs and listened.
To a married couple talk themselves out of divorce. I’ve sat down, without doing anything, and listened to a young man talk of how he was going to deal with his addictions. At the office, I’ll literally sit/listen to a staff talk his/her way into their ideal role/career/company.
Sometimes as leaders, we often feel that the people we lead always want to hear us talk. While this is sometimes true, many times, they actually want you to listen to them talk. This is when we learn the most about them; their vulnerabilities or fears.
They want you to be quiet, and let them be vulnerable, open and share freely. As leaders, we fear not knowing. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt in the last one year, being away, keeping quiet but actively listening, is being comfortable with ‘not knowing’.
People usually criticize the man at the pool of Bethsaeda who went on and on complaining, when Jesus asked him, “do you want me to make you whole?” To many people, the answer is simply yes or no; it’s binary. Thank God, Jesus listened to him rant, and then healed him.
I’ve been fortunate to experience very smart people teach, and they’ve been asked a question by a student. The “I don’t know the answer to your question” shook me many times. Because you see, I grew up in an environment where not knowing could make you lose a job or an election.
In class, not knowing the answer means you’re an “olodo”. How can a whole professor, pastor, CEO, daddy or mummy, not know? The relationship that people have with authority makes them put pressure on them, to always produce an answer. Sadly many times, misleading answers!
People just make things up and sell them as answers. They tell you what you want to hear on instalive, zoom sessions, webinars etc. But the truth is, friends, there are many times when we simply don’t know. There are times when even as prayerful people, God decides to not show you some things; even concerning our world right now. As I reflect on the things I’ve seen across social media in the last 4 months worldwide, there are so many “answers” floating around. From instalives, to webinars. Globally, people are now zoom and instalive constipated.
That’s why attendees have dropped drastically for many of the online events.
People are mentally tired. They’re not even looking to hear new things again, they want to be heard. The want to talk, rant or just pour out their hearts. So if you have what it takes to listen to people, flip your strategy. Stop talking and start listening, you may just help many deal with mental health issues, emotionally breakdown and everything else that Covid and life have thrown at them. Don’t be under pressure to come up with answers, just like my friend who lost her father, many just want to be heard. Shut up, listen & learn.