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Advocacy is speaking up for what you want or need.   It means asking for help, especially when you are not getting what you want or need. Most of us have experienced obstacles when we’re engaged in advocacy.  Obstacles can include a lack of information, isolation, and emotions.

Today’s advocacy obstacle is recognizing and strategizing “Conflict Avoiders”.  “Conflict Avoiders” like to avoid making decisions. When “Conflict Avoiders” have decision-making authority, they realize that any decision will disappoint or upset someone and because of this they will procrastinate until the need to make a decision passes.  “Conflict Avoiders” can be difficult to deal with because they cannot or will not tell you that they are procrastinating.  You may even believe they agreed to your proposal, but then nothing happens and you feel left down.  There are a number of steps you can take to deal with “Conflict Avoiders”.  First of all, make it easy for the “Conflict Avoiders” to tell you about conflicts or reservations that are preventing them from making a decision.  This means you have to develop a relationship and trust with the “Conflict Avoider”. Reassure them that you can take bad news.  After clarifying issues, you can help the person look at the facts, make a list of solutions and prioritize the solutions.  You can help the “Conflict Avoider” by making a decision instead of leaving it up to the “Conflict Avoider”. One thing to remember is that “Conflict Avoiders” will most likely have “buyers remorse” when they make a decision.  If you see “buyers remorse” it is important to provide support, otherwise there is a good chance that the “Conflict Avoider” will revoke their decision.  You will recognize “buyer’s remorse” when the “Conflict Avoider” begins to express doubts and concerns.  If anger or withdrawal begin to occur, it’s best to step back, take your problem off the table, and give everyone a chance to cool down.

“Respectfully challenging the status quo, combined with relentlessly reiterating new ideas is the hallmark of the vibrant tribe.” (Seth Godin)

Resource:  Pam Wright and Pete Wright.  From Emotions to Advocacy (this resource addresses school based advocacy but applies to most settings where you may need to engage in advocacy)

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