No More Self-Talk

We’ve always had multiple dogs.  Usually two; occasionally three.  And because my son often brings his dog over when he’s at work…or play, that number is increased by one.  So, as our older dog—Belle—turned 15 in increasingly bad health, I couldn’t help but imagine a one-dog home. The last time we had to take Belle to the emergency room I told my husband that when Belle died, I really wanted to only have Minnie for at least a while.

Then, this weekend, while Belle is still very much with us, Tramp came to stay.  What part of “only one” turned out to mean “three?”

Thinking about that made me think about a recent board retreat.  The divide between what the ED thought she was saying and what the board members heard was enormous.  As a result, frustrations were extremely high.  The details don’t matter.  Communicating clearly is one of the hardest things to do.  A big part of that is because there is what you think you are saying, what your listener thinks she is hearing, and both of you putting your own spin on the meaning of each and every word.

Communicating well is a skill I truly believe we can only attain sometimes.  Partially that is because of the person catching what we are trying to communicate.  But much of it is because we get so intent on saying what WE want to say and ignore who we are saying it to.

Fundraising communications suffer from this big time.  I’m going to tell you why you should give to us, what we need, what matters to us.  It is all about us—or one-way communication.  Or put another way, we engage in self-talk.  We are, essentially, talking only to ourselves.  And then we wonder why our board members are not engaged; our donors aren’t donating.


Janet Levine Consulting works with nonprofits to move them from mired to inspired.  Learn how we can help you at  While there, sign up for our newsletter and do contact us about a free 30—minute consultation.