There are many things that should go unsaid when it comes to advocating, however different perceptions abound. It can also be difficult to keep emotions in check when one believes so strongly in ones position or work. Here are some things to consider when advocating:
- Be respectful and courteous
- Approach others with confidence, use recipients preferred title (e.g., Dr., Mrs., Professor, Mr., etc.), offer an introduction, a firm handshake. Remember that this is a person you want to create a relationship with on this topic that is important to you and that they do not typically have the same information on the topic that you do.
- Be informed and well spoken on the topic
- Set emotions aside and provide facts, experiences. Check yourself for accuracy before approaching your audience. If you receive a question for which you don’t know the answer, it is perfectly acceptable to respond with: “That’s an excellent question. I will find the answer and get back to you by [the end of the week]”
- Provide context or rationale for your position
- Consider whether your position is based on justification or reasoning. You listener wants to hear the basis for your advocacy, not excuses.
- Tell a story
- Providing personal context on your issue by relaying a brief story to engage the listener can be just the “hook” needed. If it helps you to write down what you’d like to say and practice it, then do that so your information flows.
- Be a listener as well as an advocate
- Those to whom you advocate may be able to provide suggestions not only on the topic of your advocacy but possibly on your delivery. For example, if you are speaking to a legislative staff member, they might have tips for you on improving your message of advocacy.
Common sense, yes? Indeed, and sometimes we need encouragement and validation that we are moving forward in the most effective way possible. Have confidence in your message and happy advocating!