A good recent post in Katya’s non-profit Marketing Blog reminded me of an episode from my past.
Some years back I did a period of part-time tutoring at my old alumni, Massey University. Every week I would trundle myself off to a thoroughly enjoyable few hours with up-and-coming design students seeking a career in advertising.
The thing that sticks most in my mind was the reversal on my original view that I was there to impart my knowledge and teach. In fact I’d have to admit that I reckon I learnt more from the students than any little pearls I might have dropped in their ear.
On one occasion we were having a conversation about the “essence of communication” and how effective communications amounted to a dialogue (conversation) rather than just a one-way monologue. As I struggled to come up with a way of describing how it should work in a meaningful way, one of the young female students announced that she had an example.
“Guys try to pick girls up in bars.” Awkward looks from the guys. “When a guy is still sober he’ll try to impress by telling the girl about himself. Sometimes this goes on for some time. If there’s anything to like about the guy, a girl might wait to get a word or two back, but generally we just wait to slip away quietly.
On the other hand, a drunk guy just cuts to the chase and introduces himself with “do you want a u-no-wot?”
Of course this real life story from the jungles of 1990s Cuba Street led inevitably to a self-respecting girl’s preference for a bloke who shows a bit of interest (respect). A few good questions fan a conversation nicely and provide the security of gaining useful understandings both ways.
There is of course the issue of the direct, impolite and drunken question. Maybe we should ask ourselves the same question the next time we see an advertisement with a headline like, “buy me now before it’s too late.” Why?
Katya’s blog raises the point for fundraisers where the temptation is to often worry about our own needs as a charity and forget about the needs of our supporters. Just like someone in a bar, treat her with respect and don’t do all the talking.
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Fraser Carson is a respected communications and social media consultant, and commentator. He has particular experience and interest in community building, the not-for-profit sector and business development.