Tanushree’s Reflection: On Listening
He is thirsty, and is cut off from a spring by a mere clump of bushes. But he is divided against himself: one part overlooks the whole, sees that he is standing here and that the spring is just beside him; but another part notices nothing, has at most a divination that the first part sees all. But as he notices nothing he cannot drink. – Franz Kafka
Phil Cubeta writes Gift Hub, perhaps the most learned and imaginative blog on philanthropy. Today, he equates the fruits of philanthropy to a spring, as in a source of life-giving water, which is a new image worth noting for Charity Spring. Here he speaks of the all-important value of listening to the donor – and the danger of only hearing “the hum” of your own thoughts.
“To listen is to listen for the sound of water. Had we heard water we might have drunk. Had we drunk we might have heard.”
To his fine essay we might add the following advice on the art of listening: when in doubt ask another question; say what you think you are hearing; name the emotions you hear (e.g., “you sound…”) to confirm that you have them right and to confirm in the donor’s mind that you are indeed listening; say less and always make it about them; body language counts; honor what you hear with action and feedback.
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Coca-Cola has a new Web site that tells its story (past and present) and behaves more like a consumer magazine than a business portal. In fact, it actually looks to have more to do with philanthropy than business. This change reflects the widespread direction marketers are taking to recast their communications as storytelling rather than advertising. To make the Web site credible, it accepts opinion columns that can be at variance with the views of the company with explanations that explains the company’s view. Something for any charity to study closely.
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