“Respectfully challenging the status quo, combined with relentlessly reiterating new ideas is the hallmark of the vibrant tribe.” (Seth Godin)
Advocacy is speaking up for what you want or need. People who use self-advocacy (when an individual uses it) and group advocacy (when a group of people try to influence systems) have the greatest success meeting their needs. Advocacy means asking for help, especially when you are not getting what you want or need. Information becomes very useful when you’re trying to convince others to help you get what you want or need. Getting the right help for your problem can take time and it can be discouraging. It requires confidence and persistence.
Most of us have experienced obstacles when we’ve engaged in advocacy. Obstacles can include inaccurate information, myths, and the culture of the system you are trying to influence or change. The culture of systems includes beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes shared by people who work in the system you may be trying to influence or change. Beliefs affect the decisions people make and actions people take, including our own.
As an individual trying to engage in advocacy, our obstacles can include a lack of information, isolation, and emotions. Emotions can be our Achilles Heel. To be an effective advocate, you must control your emotions and use them as a source of energy. Although there are many sources that outline personality styles, Pam and Pete Wright (From Emotions to Advocacy) identify a number personality types and outline how you can recognize these personality styles; as well as strategies you can use to work with them without getting angry, sidetracked, or throwing in the towel. The personality styles they identify include: Pit Bulls and Bullies, Know-It-All and Experts, Conflict Avoiders, Wet Blankets, Snipers, and Complainers. If we can understand personality styles, you are less likely to take offense. It should also be noted that we can exhibit these personality styles as well. All behavior is purposeful and goal directed. That means we choose behavior to get our needs met. We use behavior to gain control over others so that we get what we want. If you have personality clashes with others, it becomes much more effective is you learn to control your emotions, minimize the negative impact of any conflicts you may be having, and to work towards your mutual interests.
In the upcoming Freedom Friday posts, we will address each of the personality styles and strategies for working with these personality styles. When you analyze, plan, and prepare, and you put your brain in charge of your emotions, your can be a more respectful and effective advocate.