Research has shown that people like to talk about themselves. And, there is a reason why. It stimulates areas of the brain. It makes them physically feel good to talk about themselves – stimulating the same areas in the brain that sex, cocaine, and good food does. And, we all know what good food does for us!
What scientists found is that “Activation of this part of the brain when discussing the self-suggests that self-disclosure, like other more traditionally recognized stimuli, may be inherently pleasurable—and that people may be motivated to talk about themselves more than other topics (no matter how interesting or important these non-self topics may be).”
Talking about oneself makes you likeable, builds trust and social bonds, and creates overall happiness. Talking about oneself also leads to the feeling of teamwork. So when we get folks talking about themselves, areas of their brains start to fire and create a pleasurable experience.
This fact all indicates to the types of conversations that we should be having with our donors. Discussions not about our organizations or what we are doing or are interested in, they should be aimed at getting the donor to talk about themselves. It makes them feel good, and it starts that cycle of self-sharing where they feel as if they want to share more.
While we all have been told to find out more about what makes our donors tick, in this case, I urge you to do that and more. Find out what makes them “tick” and help them feel good about meeting with you, the relationship that is developing, and ultimately your organization! People like to talk about themselves because it feels good. So, get people feeling good and happy, and you will build trust and likeability. Go ahead, do it.
So, how can we engage donors in self-talk? Start by asking them what their interests are:
What personally excites them?
What legacy are they hoping to leave in the world?
Why does this cause matter to them?
What do they enjoying doing in their free time?
What enrages them most about what is happening in the world today?
What is one thing on their bucket list?
What keeps them up at night?
How would they like to make a difference?
What has been their greatest life achievement?
What book have they read that has been most thought provoking?
Etc., etc., etc.
Ask them to share about their:
Etc., etc., etc.
Use these conversation starters to get your donor to begin talking about themselves and sharing more about what interests them. It is your job to listen. So rather than think about what you’re going to say before going into a donor meeting. Think about what questions you can ask that will stimulate this self-sharing and ultimately lead the donor to share more while feeling good. And, we all know what happens when you make a donor feel good!