If you supervise nonprofit communications staff or just want to be a better colleague to your comms staff, consider being open to these five kinds of coaching conversations with them.

These coaching conversations represent the bulk of my private calls with nonprofit communicators 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.

But by spending some time just talking through the work, you can provide same kinds of benefits to your colleagues.

“What Am I Missing?” Conversations

I often run through marketing plans, campaign strategies, creative briefs, and other documents with communications directors, helping them ensure 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. Sometimes, analysis paralysis is overwhelming. Discussing the pros and cons of various options can help clarify which choices are really 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 — regularly. 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 regularly if you want different results — they often get dazed and confused looks from bosses or colleagues who don’t understand the job.  Sometimes comms staff need reassurance that what they are proposing does, in fact, make sense.

“I Can Do This, Right?” Conversations

Many of the coaching 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. 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 about your work to build that trust!

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