Reading the transcript of Oprah’s last show, an interesting paragraph struck me, where she said;
““I’ve talked to nearly 30,000 people on this show, and all 30,000 had one thing in common: They all wanted validation. If I could reach through this television and sit on your sofa or sit on a stool in your kitchen right now, I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire. They want to know: ‘Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?’”
My mind took me back to so many years back. Maybe I was 13 or 14, I don’t really remember. All I remember is that we were in Kenya; in my grandmother’s house to be more exact. We had family members over from other parts of Kenya, so the house was full of fujo (noise). I was sick that day, and I was resting on a mattress on the floor of my grandmother’s room.
Lying there, in my sick state, I was really upset because nobody had come to check up on me, as everybody was busy with the guests. And I was feeling terrible physically and emotionally. Then somebody left the fujo in the living room and actually came to me and asked about how I was feeling.
I think that’s my first experience with this need for validation; or at least, it’s one that has touched me so much that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. And looking back, it makes me realize, that sometimes it’s the small words that make a big difference. If my brother ever becomes a president of anything, I would link it to his habit of connecting with the common folks. Like when he rides into a cab, he asks the driver, “Where are you from?” And when the driver says, “Pakistan,” he continues with, “Where in Pakistan?”
And suddenly, the two of them sit and talk about that specific region of Pakistan even though my brother’s never set foot there, but I think he’s spoken with enough Pakistanis to know the whole region.
Or when he goes to a bakery and orders something, he genuinely stops with the cashier and asks him, “How is business?”
And people end up sharing more than they’d feel comfortable sharing with a stranger they probably won’t see again. But you see, he connects with them, he validates them, tells them that their voice truly matters, because if things had been different it could have been him in their place, lonely for a person to speak with, hoping for someone to validate them…
So I guess, this is today’s message for you; remember that we all want validation. We want to know: ‘Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?’”