Was that Okay?

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20th Dec 2023

I recently came across the commencement speech delivered by Oprah Winfrey at Harvard University in May 2013 and a section of the speech really caught my attention, which I reproduce below:

“The common denominator that I found in every single interview, is we want to be validated.

We want to be understood.

I have done over 35,000 interviews in my career and as soon as that camera shuts off everyone always turns to me and inevitably in their own way asks this question “Was that okay?”

I heard it from President Bush, I heard it from President Obama.

I’ve heard it from heroes and from housewives.

I’ve heard it from victims and perpetrators of crimes. I even heard it from Beyonce and all of her Beyonceness. She finishes performing, hands me the microphone and says, “Was that okay?”

Friends and family, enemies, strangers in every argument, in every encounter, every exchange I will tell you, they all want to know one thing: was that okay?

Did you hear me?

Do you see me?

Did what I said mean anything to you?”

Everyone, from the mightiest to the guy on the street, from the CEO to the peon, from the child to the mother doing all the housework, is looking for validation, for acknowledgement, for encouragement.

Whether at home, with family or friends, or at work with our juniors & seniors, we take most things for granted and assume that it is not required and the other person somehow knows our feelings and doesn’t need encouragement or acknowledgment of the great job they are doing.

As we approach the end of the year, let’s take some time and acknowledge and thank everyone in our life for the great job that is being done by all.

Let’s encourage and assure them that they are doing a great job & stay blessed forever.