‘I’m not really listening to you.’

What?!?!  This is probably the worst thing that we could ever communicate to a prospect or supporter for our agencies.  It is a privilege and huge opportunity to personally secure time with those that we are seeking to draw into closer relationship with us, and so, to tell them we’re not  listening would be just awful.  And, I wouldn’t be surprised if they bailed on us.

A dear friend, colleague, and one of the best fundraisers I know was sharing the other day about a really tough season of being so stretched for time, that his 1-1 donor meetings were the only opportunities that he had to really think about all the things he needed to do.

While we would never, ever, say out loud to someone we are meeting with: ‘I’m not really listening to you,’ our cumulative time management fails can greatly increase the unfortunate likelihood of our communicating an inability to be fully present in other ways.  Specifically:

  • Appearing distracted
  • Forgetting to take notes
  • Realizing we have not heard what has been shared, and having to ask supporters to repeat themselves
  • Asking poorly crafted questions
  • Missing big opportunities to establish meaningful rapport

Our time with supporters is by design just that, time with donors.  It is imperative that we employ the discipline to turn off the faucet of tasks, plans, emails, and other responsibilities and give ourselves permission to really participate with folks.  Let’s not forget, this is the most important and most enjoyable part of our role.  Next post we’ll take about some ways to move the battle lines back, and plan our time in such a way that we can ensure supporters know we are really listening.

Thoughts on ways to ensure we are fully present with supporters?  Join the conversation at @infosmallchange #ascblog

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