My trip to West Africa for lecturing and to present at an international conference taught me a lesson about humanity and the efficacy of fear. After lecturing to final year industrial-organizational psychology undergraduates at a prestigious University in West Africa, we decided to take a group photo. The experience was humbling and motivating. I learned from the experience that having open conversations with students on issues that concern them individually and as people (not just as students) encourage an honest dialogue about life after graduating from a program. The fear of how society will accept new graduates? Whether graduates have the confidence in their field of training, and most importantly, whether academic training gained from their program in Africa, has the same value to other cultures (i.e., Western culture)? These were practical questions presented to me by students, and got me thinking.
There is a hunger in every one of us; the quest to belong and to be accepted, and the need for a sense of meaningfulness. These are universal quests. And I wondered how many graduates have thought about these questions but never had the courage to ask them? And I wondered whether educators, mentors, and leaders ever consider posing these questions to their mentees and students? After pondering on my experience, I came up with three simple questions to create self-awareness and effective collaborative tools.
1. Are we as educators, leaders, and contributors participating in a collaborative “dance”?
2. Are we interested in listening to what our subordinates have to say?
3. Are we willing to take necessary measures in creating practical results?
Too often, it is easy to see and hear things the way we once knew them. And by so doing, we get results that we have always gotten. When I was invited to speak to final course undergraduate students at this particular University, I wanted to share material that I have prepared earlier. But on a second thought, I decided to have an open and honest conversation with the students. I permitted them to ask me any questions of concerns as pertain to the field of industrial-organizational psychology, or life after school. At first, students were not open minded to participate in such an open dialogue, but as I told my stories as relate to I-O psychology and life after school, questions started to pour in. It was through this approach that I gathered questions that have relevance to the students. It is always a good idea to have a collaborative mindset to humanize learning.
Listen to Subordinates
Listening is an art. Listening is energy intensive. It was through the art of listening that I heard the issues that the students cared about. The main issue was fear of facing reality after graduating from their program. I have learned that, It is healthier to be an effective listener than an effective speaker. Because through listening, answers are formulated and fashioned collaboratively.
The Willingness to Take Measurable and Practical Action
By having a collaborative mindset, we listen to one another. And by listening to one another, we produce measurable and practical results. Therefore, develop a mindset and habit of allowing others to shine. By doing so, we illuminate humanity to its fullness, because humanity and fear co-exist.