Why sweat the small stuff?

Yesterday I wrote a post about making sure to get the font right in emails you send out.  The day before I reflected on responses to the simple question, “How are you doing?”

Why sweat such small stuff in a blog about generosity, philanthropy and social change?

It’s because from what I’ve seen, change happens – especially in the nonprofit sector – when the right people, ideas and resources come together to attack a particular issue.  The driving force and the glue are relationships, the ability to bring together seemingly disparate people and organizations that form strong, lasting partnerships.

Successful relationship management is first and foremost about attitude.  You have to care (or, potentially, you have to decide to care) about building strong and genuine relationships.  You have to have honest-to-goodness respect for the people with whom you’re building these relationships.  This goes in all directions (donor to nonprofit; nonprofit to donor; nonprofit to program beneficiary, program beneficiary to nonprofit; etc. etc. ), and it’s non-negotiable.  Without this attitude in place, you’ll fall short.

Once you’ve got this right, though, relationship-building and relationship management is a skill that can be learned.  Like any skill there are big pieces and small pieces; there are people who are born naturals and people who learn along the way.  There are a million ways to get this right and probably even more ways to muck it up.

So posts about how to write emails, or posts about the first impression you make when someone asks “how are you?” are part of the mountain of little tweaks that I’ve found help me get better at this every day – things I’ve seen, things I’ve messed up, things I’ve learned from others.  One by one they pile up, until one day, to your (or my) surprise, you’re in a totally different place.

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