By Sarah B Lange under Individual Donors, Stewardship - Donor Relations on February 18, 2021

I want to tell you about a lesson I’ve learned (relearned) this week – it’s been one of those gut-wrenching, shame-inducing lessons, but it was also an important one!

I heard from a client that they weren’t particularly happy with the way things were going. For someone who’s used to blowing people away, getting the gold star, and rounds of applause, this was really hard. And it would have been really easy for me to get defensive; point out the ways they had contributed to the problem that was now staring us in the face. But pointing out those things was not going to solve the problem. So, I put aside my ego and LISTENED.

By the end of the conversation, I’d realized that there were critical flaws in my approach from the get-go. That the process I was using – even though it was aligned with best practice — was too complicated for this organization. That I had to simplify and streamline the process to make it work for them.

Of equal importance, I realized that while I’d been listening to the words they were saying, I hadn’t attended to the music (those things that aren’t being said, but hang in the background nonetheless). I’d missed the cues, because I was more focused on the process and the product. OY (she says with a palm to the face).

I am happy to report that after an open, honest 30 minute conversation, that we’re back on track and that the relationships remains intact. I’m confident that with some adaptations, we’ll be able to achieve the same results we initially outlined. Yay! Although this was difficult feedback to receive, and it was a humbling experience, I am so glad they raised the issue – not only because we’re now following a path that better suits their needs, but because it’s made me both a better consultant and a better person.

SO – wondering if there are people in your organization who need to attend better to both the words and the music? What would YOUR clients say, given the chance to share their honest feedback? If you’d like a sample client survey, let me know and I’ll send one to you!

And – at any time you find yourself with a question, or facing a challenge, I’m here to help: click here to book in 15 minutes with me.


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