HOW TO CONDUCT A NIGERIAN MEETING – Elnathan John
A Nigerian is not just a person who has a green passport or one whose parents are Nigerian citizens. A Nigerian properly-so-called, is one who knows how to live in Nigeria without bursting an artery, committing suicide, or running away to seek asylum somewhere else. If you have run away, kindly refrain from calling yourself a Nigerian. The acceptable term for you is ‘of Nigerian origin’. There is a difference.
Being a proper Nigerian, I feel like I should explain this concept thoroughly starting with how to conduct meetings. A Nigerian meeting is not just an event. It is that sacred, multipurpose, indispensable tool for living the Nigerian life. This is how to conduct a Nigerian meeting.
As a business owner, always call for meetings even for things you can do by email. Sometimes, meet early in the morning for morning devotion to commit your business and hustle to the hands of God. Meet to set the agenda for other meetings that will be held over the week.
Jobs are boring. You need a distraction. Meetings, especially ones with tea break, prevent you from losing your mind and picking up a gun to shoot all your annoying colleagues like white people do. White people need to have more meetings.
When going for a meeting, never arrive early. This will give the impression that you are jobless, desperate or too eager. Nobody likes Nigerians who are jobless or too eager. A true Nigerian, not one who is pretending to be white, will understand if you show up late for a meeting. They may feign annoyance, but usually they will wait. In fact the best of Nigerians will make excuses for you, especially if you live in a place like Lagos. You will walk in late to a meeting, panting, with that faux look of contrition and the person you are having a meeting with – if she is a good Nigerian – will say: Eiyah! Traffic abi? You will only have to nod or say something like: No be small tin o. Everyone will be grateful that you showed up and the meeting will begin.
When you are having a big meeting with an ‘oga’ (or oga-madam) it is safer to cancel all other appointments for the day. Because the oga will saunter in three hours late and you will have to smile and say “No, not at all!” when he asks: “Did I keep you waiting?”
If you are an oga, you should never, ever show up for a meeting on time. This is Nigeria. People disrespect ogas who don’t keep them waiting forever. They will think you are equals and before you know it one ordinary person will call your name without adding Chief or Prof or Honorable or Your Excellency. God forbid that after hustling to get those titles, some idiot forgets to mention them. All because you came early to a meeting.
As a proper Nigerian whose father is God, you must commit all meetings to His hands. You may work hard but it is God that is in charge of blessing our hustle. Never forget to say at least two prayers in every meeting. One Christian, one Muslim. You never know which of the Gods will answer favorably. It does not matter if you will be discussing how to steal from other people. God sees the heart and he knows that deep down, all you want to do is succeed.
When it is your turn to speak at a meeting it is rude to go straight to the point. Proper Nigerians are not rude. Because I care, please find below a summary of how to speak at a Nigerian meeting:
1. Don’t be ungrateful. Thank the moderator for giving you the opportunity to speak.
2. Don’t be disrespectful. Observe all protocol. People did not become highly placed by mistake.
3. Show appreciation. Say how much it is a privilege for you to be at the meeting. Use the phrases ‘singular honor’ and ‘rare privilege’.
4. Show understanding. Explain how important the meeting is to you and to everyone present. Thank the conveners for having the wisdom to organize the meeting.
5. Show regard for the last speaker. Use words like ‘just like the last speaker has said’ or ‘I want to concur with the last speaker’ or ‘I totally agree with the last speaker’ or ‘I want to align myself with the last speaker’. Then proceed to say the same thing using your own words. It is important for everyone to have a chance to speak at a meeting.
6. Be considerate. Promise not to speak too long with a phrase like: ‘I will not take much of your time’, after which you can speak freely.
7. Always provide a summary of all you have just said. Use phrases like: ‘So, what have I just said?’ or ‘What am I trying to say?’ to introduce you summary.
8. Be observant. If you still have more things to say and you sense that people are tired of hearing you speak, use the words ‘In conclusion’ to give them hope that you will soon end, after which you can continue to speak freely.
All meetings must end in a closing prayer. To avoid a fight however, take care to remember whether it was a Christian prayer or Muslim prayer you began with. When you are not sure, do both prayers. You do not want to annoy any children of the Nigerian God.
One last thing: Don’t forget that the only acceptable way of answering a phone call during a Nigerian meeting is to shout: “Hello, please I am in a meeting, let me call you back.” People will smile, seeing how important this meeting is to you.
I hope that this helps and that God will continue to bless your hustle as you conduct meetings.
– Elnathan John.