Talking About Religion: Going Deeper

November 30, 2009

What we think and believe is important to all of us. I often find myself wondering what I can or cannot, should or should not say to donors, co-workers, and other staff. Should we always draw back from conversation in fear of what the response might be? Or are can we have a dialogue about what is important to each of us?

In a profession that is so people-focused and relationship-focused, it is hard to not involve yourself personally. Having a personal component to a relationship gives it richness and depth. I cannot ask personal questions for the sole purpose of soliciting for a gift. I really am interested in what is happening in the lives of the co-workers, donors, and volunteers with whom I work. For this reason I don’t think religion has to be a taboo topic.

Forcing thoughts about religion into a conversation is adversarial. The key is authenticity: don’t say something because you feel like it is what you “ought to” say or because you feel obligated. When you are talking about something close to your heart, it should be shared naturally from that same place.

I know this can be a very sensitive topic with many people. I am really interested in hearing from you as to what is and is not okay to discuss at your workplace? How do you handle conversations about religion or belief in your office and with donors that ask you about it?