Take a moment and just keep silent. What do you hear? Take a moment and just look around. What do you see?

I just moved to a new country. Everything is new. The people, the views, the surroundings and the roads. It’s all different. The first few days are always tiring. Simply because there is so much to take in and to remember. In those first days, your senses are crucial. Because they keep you alive and sane. Because they process an overwhelming amount of information. And that needs to get processed by your brain. And that is exhausting.

One of my ways to handle this overload of information is by listening. Besides reading and discussing programme plans and project reports, I just listened. Mainly to what the people had to tell me. Other staff members in the office. How long have they been with ZOA? What has changed lately? How do they feel now? What kind of culture of working are they expecting and comfortable in?

They talked. I listened.

It’s fascinating how fast people trust you if you just ask a couple questions and truly set your ears to hear the answer. Maybe I forgot to really listen in the past few months in the Netherlands. Maybe I have been too focused on my own issues to really hear what people around me were trying to tell me. The world is so much nicer to be in, if you just make an effort to listen. It’s really not that complicated. It just takes time. And an open heart to receive.