If you supervise nonprofit communications staff or just want to be a better colleague to your comms staff, consider being open to these kinds of conversations with them.
These types of conversations represent the bulk of the talks I have with nonprofit communicators who are participating in the Communications Director Mentoring Program, which includes unlimited private coaching with me. They trust me — in both my intent to help and in my professional expertise — so they open up in ways they often can’t with coworkers.
“What Am I Missing?” Conversations
I often run through marketing plans, campaign strategies, creative briefs, and all kinds of other documents with communications directors, helping them make sure they are including (or at least considering) all the major components. Sometimes you just need to walk someone else with fresh eyes through something you’ve been working on to find your own omissions.
“Help Me Make a Choice” Conversations
Practically everything we do as nonprofit communicators involves multiple choices and decisions and sometimes the analysis paralysis is overwhelming. Talking through pros and cons of various options can help clarify which choices really are best.
“Is This Normal?” Conversations
People are weird and nonprofits are weird. I hear about very strange situations — some of which qualify as full-on gaslighting — on the regular. Sometimes it’s just someone in the office being a little squirrelly or a visionary boss going way off into space. Comms staff often need help getting grounded again.
“Am I Making Sense?” Conversations
When nonprofit communicators want to try something new — and you should be on a regular basis if you want different results — they often get dazed and confused looks from bosses or colleagues who don’t really understand the job. Sometimes comms staff just need reassurance that what they are proposing does, in fact, make sense.
“I Can Do This, Right?” Conversations
Many of the conversations I have are really about confidence building. After answering, “Yes, you are making sense” I often move into, “Yes, you can do this.” This can be very lonely work, especially for teams of one, and a little encouragement can make all the difference. We also talk A LOT about setting boundaries at work, which can be very hard to do. I reassure people constantly that the boundaries they want to set are more than reasonable.
If you want to be a good boss or a good work friend, be open to these kinds of chats. Maybe even start one yourself about your own work to build up that trust!