Institute for Charitable Giving

blue rule

The Gospel of Listening

blue rule

(A credo originally written by Jerry Panas)

If you’ve read anything I’ve written or heard me at a Seminar, you know the importance I give to the art of listening. It’s the gospel I preach. I consider it the single most powerful ammunition in your arsenal of fundraising skills. Best of all, it’s a talent that can be learned and acquired.

Here are some observations I want to pass on. If you listen carefully, very carefully— you will hear a gift.

  1. It often shows an extraordinary command of the language to say nothing.
  2. There’s no greater compliment to a person than by showing a keen interest in them. You do this by listening intently.
  3. We are blessed with two ears and one mouth– a constant reminder we should listen twice as much as we talk.
  4. It’s essential to maintain positive eye contact.
  5. Tilting your head slightly when listening demonstrates interest.
  6. Probe and ask questions. You do this to gain information and better understanding.
  7. What should you listen for? The little things. Everything.
  8. Listen with your eyes.
  9. Listen with your entire being.
  10. Smile! It dramatically affects how people respond to you.
  11. Unless you know what you’re listening for, it may be difficult to know if you have the information you need when you hear it. Prepare carefully before your meeting.
  12. You don’t listen to respond. You listen to gain information.
  13. The better you listen, the smarter you get.
  14. What you don’t know or you don’t find out by asking might hurt you if you don’t probe and listen.
  15. The better you listen, the more you realize how little you know.
  16. You will not get the right answer if you don’t ask the right questions.
  17. When you talk too much, it is hard to remember all you said– and harder still to remember what they said.
  18. Open questions (How? Why? What? When?) allow the respondent an opportunity to provide a full and revealing answer.
  19. If you talk more than twenty-five percent of the time, there’s a good chance you will never hear the necessary information. Listen seventy-five percent of the time.

Listen as if you’re hard of hearing.


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