Reflection

Shut Up and Listen

Sometimes in the wake of disasters, we act without taking into account what's needed. Reflect on listening before you act.

Shut Up and Listen

Sometimes in the wake of disasters, we act without taking into account what's needed. Reflect on listening before you act.


Extra wide shutupandlisten

In his TED Talk, Ernestro Sirolli gives well-intentioned do-gooders some advice. If you really want to help someone, shut up and listen. You see, Sirolli would know. He’s one of the most influential people in the field of sustainable economic development. He argues that a lot of aid workers around the world fail because they do not listen to those they are trying to help. Rather, they assume what people need without taking their perspective into account.
 

How can we really help if we don’t know what people need?
 

Think about this: Would you give your friend an old pair of shoes? Would you send your sister money if she didn’t ask for it? Would you fly across the country just to help someone move houses?
 

Why, then, in times of disaster do we assume certain things about the people who survived the disaster?
 

This reflection is not meant to make you or anyone feel bad. But it’s important to remember that good intentions don’t always lead to good results. A lot of good people with great intentions have done some really unhelpful things in the wake of disasters.
 

Don’t act without asking what’s needed. Don’t “do good” based on your assumptions. Practice listening first.

 

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