sharing who you areA few months ago I was reading in my home office. As usual, it was psychology-oriented reading material. But the particular topic had to do with the unusual challenges faced by charitable organizations.

Perhaps this comes as no surprise to you, but the author was pointing out something I found very interesting (and strange). Save-the-Children type organizations are forced to focus on the stories of just a few people if they want to be successful at raising money from donors.

It could be an organization that raises money for orphans of the Central African civil wars. It could be an organization that raises money for malnourished children. Regardless of the cause, only individual stories seem to evoke the emotion needed for a person to pull out his or her checkbook.

And it turns out, the more children you show in a presentation, the less donors are willing to give. That sounds backwards, doesn’t it?

The worst situation occurs when the charitable organization offers statistics about the number of children who need homes. Or statistics about the number of families who don’t have enough food to live. For some reason the statistics seem to cause us to disconnect emotionally.

I experienced this first hand last week.

I attended a fund raiser for what the presenter said was classified by the U.N. as the “third poorest nation on earth.” She told us how it is landlocked and how the other countries demand tariffs and other fees as products enter or leave the landlocked nation with very few natural resources of its own.

None of that really affected me. But when she told me the story of two kids they helped by building an orphanage home, I was ready to write a check. I suddenly had an emotional desire to make sure the organization could continue helping those kids. I wanted to cry because the stories touched me so deeply.

Seeing lots of children doesn’t work. Why? Because it disconnects us from the way compassion and caring works in the human mind.

Humans are built for relationships, but not relationships with crowds. Our instincts are programmed to respond to the human story.

If you are exposed to the story of one child, by the name of Gianna, and you learn about her particular hopes and struggles, something interesting starts to happen. You begin to connect with that child…a child you have never actually met. You start to care about her. She matters to you. How Gianna’s story ends is suddenly real and personal on an emotional level, not just a cognitive level.

Here’s the message I want you to get from this email. Your story matters. When you’re trying to connect with your love interest, it’s your story that gets him emotionally hooked.

I don’t care how attractive you are or how good you are at witty banter; if you are just a face without a story, the connection will never be real or genuine.

You may wonder how to integrate this advice with the important art of deep listening. Deep listening is all about learning his story.

Deep listening allows you to experience his story in a way that makes him feel like someone gets him on a deeper level. The more you learn about his hopes and dreams, fears and frustrations, the more you matter to him. Isn’t that weird?

It’s one of the many reasons we care deeply about people who have been there through it all with us. They know our story because they were a witness to it as it unfolded.

Getting back to the question at hand, never interrupt an opportunity to hear his story. I’m sure you’ve been on the receiving end of a conversation with one of those annoying people that responds to every single thing you say with their own related story.

They never even acknowledge what you said, thinking they are being a great conversationalist by sharing how, “Oh my God…that so totally just happened to me last week! Blah blah blah.”

sharing who you areDon’t be one of those people. Instead, start conversations by sharing what it’s like to be you. Let him into your world. Instead of telling him about yourself, let him see your life through your eyes.

Think of it like the advice fiction authors often receive from editors: “Don’t tell them about your character…show them.” When you connect in this way, he will feel a natural pull to learn more about you and keep in touch with you.

That’s all for today. I could go on about this particular topic for hours, but I know you’ve got places to go and stories to tell, so I’ll let you get to it!

James

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