Huhana: four years old.
“I don’t like funerals, I’m not very good at waiting or being quiet.”
Dear Huhana and Kāhu o te Rangi,
Huhana, from about
Me, your uncle Manaaki and aunty Maia, spent a lot of our childhood on
Sitting still and waiting, patiently holding thoughts in your palm a bit longer instead of letting them fly as words, knowing that something bigger is happening than your immediate desire to move, or to stretch, or to let someone know something that feels super important right now, is a great skill to have in your kete.
When you get older, it’s even more useful. Not talking lets you listen more. Listening more lets you understand more. He mana tō te mātauranga, he mana i te kākano o te māramatanga – if knowledge is power, then understanding is the seed of power.
Listen and learn. Learn then do.
The people who always speak first, talk before they’ve listened, they don’t have the full understanding. They only know what they already knew.
The people who wait too long and let the others do all the talking, miss the chance to influence and shape that conversation in the way they want it to go.
Speak up when your words will add value. Never be scared to voice your thoughts but be intentional about the balance. When you get it right, you’ll wield an advantage the people on the extreme ends of quiet and loud don’t have.
By listening first, you’ve learned more than you knew when you walked in the room. You understand more. You have more power when you do place your words, and while that might sound aggressive, there’s nothing wrong with being aware of your power or wielding it when needed in a conversation. Huhana, as a wāhine in a world built by predominantly white men, I especially hope you understand that, and push your power where you want it to go. Kāhu you will have an advantage in some rooms automatically, don’t abuse it, use it for good.
One of my old bosses was a master of this balance. Sometimes he would stay quiet until the very end of a meeting. When he spoke, he had listened and understood all sides of the conversation and the room, the people in a rush to have the first word had spoken – everyone else’s cards were on the table. So he was at an advantage. I don’t mean to make meetings and conversations