Tag Archives: Clients

But That’s Not What I Meant

Words can persuade.  Words can hurt.  Words can calm.  Words matter.

Whether it’s convincing, providing services/care, managing a project or anything else in operating an agency or organization – words matter.  Here are 3 ways to use words to your advantage.

Know your client’s/donor’s language

Words do not always mean the same thing to everyone.  Take the word superficial as an example.  To someone in the medical profession a superficial wound means something not very serious, a surface injury.  Outside of the medical community, if we describe a person as superficial we think they are shallow.  If we think a situation is superficial we consider it insignificant.  So to an ER doctor a wound that is superficial is good; to a client whose need is called superficial by your program manager, it is an insult.  If you do not understand the lingo of your clients/donors you run the risk of insulting them or being misunderstood.  It does take research and listening to know the language of others, but the effort can set you apart from funding competitors and help you accomplish your mission.

Use language your partners understand

If you believe the premise in the previous paragraph then you probably think that your partners should make the effort to know your language and you would be right.  However, if they don’t you will suffer.  Here is an illustration:  You are on the road and almost get hit by another car.  You think, if we wreck it will be the other person’s fault.  You may be right, but you will still be in a wreck.  If you are the lead on a project/program and your partners do not understand your need, time-frame or whatever you could suffer if you do not adjust.  A good truth to remember is that just because someone should does not mean they will.

Speak softly and carry a big stick

Or as my Grandmother used to say, sugar catches more flies than vinegar.  If you start out using kind words you are likely to get cooperation.  If you do not get cooperation then you can resort to stiffer language.  If you start out with vinegary words you may get cooperation or at least action.  But if you do not get what you need, you are at a disadvantage.  Do you use tougher language or do you try to drop back and use nice language?  The typical tactic is to get tougher.  Then even if you get what you want, you usually don’t feel like a winner.  And what happens next time, because if you started out with vinegary words there will likely not be a next time.

In closing let me give you an extreme example to help you remember that words matter.  In South Carolina, my home state, and in some other Southern states the word “Shag” is a dance done to beach music.  In England the word “shag” is a slang expression for sex.  I’ll let you think of ways this word could cause embarrassment, confusion, insult or amusement.  But you get the point — if you don’t understand the other person’s language the outcome will not likely be what you want it to be.

Before You Ask For The Grant, Be Sure You Can Fulfill The Requirements

Would you leave home naked to go to work, the grocery store or a movie?

Would you set off on a trip to a place you have never been with no GPS, directions  or map?

Would you attempt to eat a whole turkey with all the trimmings by yourself?

Not likely.

But organizations often seek funding before they know if they can fulfill all of the requirements.  They often seek funding for projects they hope they can fit their current programs or services into.  The lure of funding sometimes overrides good sense.

Organization and agency directors are always under pressure to see that they have adequate funding.  Urgency sometimes means they may not have set up the processes necessary to ensure that meet the requirements and expectations of a funder.  They may cause their organization to sacrifice something important by committing to requirements that take them away from their core programs and services.

Often it takes partnerships for organizations to operate or take on big projects.  This might mean a temporary partnership is necessary.   Not working out all the details of that partnership can cause many problems when it’s time for the partnership to operate.

I have worked with many organizations and agencies who were not prepared when they got the grant.   All of them suffered in some way from the lack of preparation.  No matter how big the pot of funding or how tempting it is to apply for it, it must be a fit or it can cause more harm than help.  I have seen evidence that an organization that knows it is prepared does a much better job at convincing someone to fund them.  They are confident in their abilities and that confidence comes across to funders and donors.

Remember that not being prepared leads to failure and failure can ruin your reputation.

%d bloggers like this: