As nonprofit professionals, we know that our work depends on strong relationships—relationships with the people we serve, our staff and volunteer colleagues, and our donors. We know that taking the time to recognize and appreciate each other builds an organizational culture where people want to seek services, work, volunteer, and give.
Yet, the crushing pace and urgency of our work in organizations means that we abandon what we know is important to survive the day of addressing urgent whack-a-mole issues.
This is not unlike the good intentions in our romantic relationships. We know we should take the time to really listen and deeply know each other. This sounds great until work, family, health conditions, or—let’s be honest—social media sucks every scrap of good intention from our being.
Luckily for couples—and nonprofits—in the Northwest and beyond, we can draw on the wisdom of Seattle-based Drs. John and Julie Gottman, international experts in relationships and founders of the Gottman Institute. One of the core elements of their Sound Relationship House Theory developed for couples is “Turn Towards Instead of Away.” The Gottmans say the small moments of everyday life are the building blocks of relationships.
Even if we can’t carve out huge swaths of time in our schedule to focus on our key relationships, we can do it in the middle of our chaos.
So, how do we connect with the core people who power our mission—despite the craziness of everyday life in our organizations? In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and channeling the Gottmans, here are four ways you can weave together relationship-building and the small moments of your organization’s life—with little additional time and financial investment.
Four Moments to Turn Towards Your Clients, Volunteers, Donors, and Staff
In all these ordinary, but meaningful moments, you are deepening your relationships and building more widespread ownership of the organization. The goal is that any additional time these moments occupy on your calendar, it’s an investment in drawing more people into your organization to further your mission. At the end of the day, if the people who power your mission are happy and take responsibility alongside you, your load will lighten.
Let’s keep this conversation going. We want to hear your questions and ideas about building key stakeholder relationships. We're here to connect.