Not too long ago, a client asked me to meet with her development associate. This person seemed to be doing a good job, but board members complained about her. After 15 minutes, I knew why. She never, ever looked at me. Her eyes were everywhere, mostly looking in the opposite direction of where I sat.
It was quite disconcerting.
Was I boring her? Was there something more important on her mind? Did I have something awful stuck in my teeth and she couldn’t bear to look at me? Whatever it was, it did not make me feel warm and fuzzy toward her. If I was a prospect, I would also not be feeling good about her organization.
There are cultures where people are taught it is rude to look directly at someone, and there are people who for a variety of reasons are incapable of looking directly at someone. There are times when looking away indicates that you are thinking. But these aside, looking at someone while you are engaged in conversation—especially a conversation about giving—signals that the conversation and the person you are speaking with are important. Looking elsewhere indicates the opposite.
Being seen is impactful. Not being looked at is irritating.
I want my prospects to feel that they have power, that they are important. I want them to see me seeing them. And to do that, I have to look at them.
Janet Levine helps her clients to see and be seen so that their fundraising capacity increases. Learn more at www.janetlevineconsulting.com. While there, sign up for the newsletter and contact Janet for a free, 30-minute consultation.