Recently, I had some conversations with a former co-worker. Her outlook and atmosphere had changed so dramatically that I had pause and ask, what is different. Well, she set me on the course of all of her “research” on the importance of human body language. And, I realized that there was profound applicability for me personally, but also for me professionally as a fund development professional, particularly as it applied to major gifts work.
So, I set out to view some of these suggested videos on research from my friend. And, I wanted to put some ideas in practice.
The first important concept I learned about is “setting your intention.” When I Googled setting an intention, I came up with many entries. The practice of doing so has deep historical and religious roots. However, it is about stating what you want the outcome to be for a given encounter. The second concepts that I am learning about are the importance of non-verbal body language and how to “command”
your territory. Use facial gestures that indicate happiness, open up your chest area, use hands to illustrate your words, etc.
With an upcoming major gift visit, I decided to put some of these concepts into practice.
For this particular major gift solicitation, I knew that there was an ideal gift in mind. So, before I arrived at the meeting, I had decided that I was going to set the intention. The intention of this particular meeting was to obtain a gift of a pre-determined amount. I also made a conscious effort to use some of these body language techniques. Sitting with shoulders back, feet planted, a smile on my face, conversations “easers,” and the most important topic, using hand gestures.
What was the result? Well, evidently I felt more confident and at ease. I held the attention of those I were meeting. They and I were both at ease with each other. And, most important when negotiation started regarding the gift amount, that intention was there, and it propelled me forward. So when an objection popped up, I found myself more purposeful regarding setting the donor’s heights higher than what they were even thinking.
The question remains will the gift come in at that amount? Truly, it is up to the donor to decide, and they are going to take that time to do so. However, what was most important is that these “new” techniques gave me greater confidence to be able to ask for my intention with much greater ease. Subconsciously set, the intention moved me forward in a way that I had not been before.
So, I see where my former co-worker is getting her energy. There is something to this science of body language. Others have spent work studying the importance of what we say and the emotions in which we say it in fund development, but I have seen little on the non-verbal study of people and their behaviors and how we interact. I suppose if we are involved in major or individual gift work that it would behoove us to learn more about these techniques for ourselves and to study what they mean in others.
Off I go to watch more TED Talks. And, you need to keep track of this gent…Mark Bowden, the leading expert on body language!