When I saw Arlene Dickinson’s book, Persuasion, on a display table at a local bookstore, I was curious. I know Dickinson from her role on CBC’s reality investment show Dragons’ Den where she is the lone female dragon. She appears to be confident, friendly, real and knowledgable. She landed the role because of her sharp business acumen and intuitive marketing mind. (You can learn more about Dickinson here.) So, I picked up her book expecting to read about sales techniques, dealmaking and argumentation. I am half way through the book and none of these topics have come up.
Dickinson’s focus is on the persuader. The “I”. The individual. She challenges me to think about who I am. She reminds me that persuasive people are trustworthy, authentic, straight shooters. Persuasive people are good listeners. They don’t have to be right all the time. They know who they are and are comfortable in their skin. They are confident enough to tell you what others may not want to tell you, and they walk alongside you, not way out in front. As I think of the most persuasive people in my life, I see these qualities in them.
What is true in our personal life holds true in our professional life. It’s hard to believe and trust someone who is not willing or confident enough to show who they really are.
Of course the message is vital — that’s my soapbox and I am firmly planted on it. But this book causes me to think beyond the message, beyond the delivery to the deliverer. The point is this: your nonprofit’s message — to donors, staff, partners — is heard in relation to the authenticity and trustworthiness of the person delivering it, the “I” that is the persuader.
Looking at persuasion in this light, how persuasive are the folks who are making the case for your cause?
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