What is an advocate? An advocate is someone who takes a stand on a subject that is important to them.
Most of us are daily advocates, we just don't realize it. You most likely were an advocate when you were young and you objected to something in your life. You objected, then you presented a better view to someone else in order for an outcome.
We might have done this when we were young and wanted to object to our night of doing the dishes. I remember once when my Mother said it was my turn to wash the dishes and I argued that it was my brothers. I presented my opinion with facts and then let my mother decide based on my objection. He ended up doing the dishes.
As an advocate, you must always make your case. You first should present your issue with the facts and with courtesy.
Honey gets you further than being a bully. Not everyone in our society will agree on all issues, but you may persuade them to see it your way if you use kindness. Remember we are all teachers, and advocacy is really educating. It is all in your presentation.
So Advocacy is really your opinion on something, then making the case based on points or facts to change an outcome. Remember if something is fine, then there is no need to change it.
Here are 10 keys to advocating.
Tip #1: Advocate for something you understand
If you understand the issue you are advocating and are familiar with it then you will be able to speak freely on it with others. You will also be comfortable when you are explaining the issue and the need for change easily.
Tip #2: Be passionate and credible
Passion mixed with kindness is such an effective tool. Make sure that you are passionate about this issue. Make sure that this issue rocks your soul, and it speaks to your heart. Because this is how you relay your message to someone so it resonates with them. That is when you catch their attention so that they can understand and care about what you are working on.
Tip #3: Find others who believe as you do on this issue
I believe that if you have a group or an army of supporters then you will have a greater chance of success in advocating your issues.
Tip #4: Be Considerate of other's views
Always listen to what the other person you are discussing with has to say, then counter their discussion if you need to. But be considerate of their views while sticking to yours. Always give clear facts on the issue.
Tip #5: Be Consistent on the issue
Always be clear and consistent on what the issue is and why you are asking for them to support the issue.
Tip #6: Never assume the person you are talking with understands the facts
Give the person you are speaking with examples that they can relate to.
Such as, once I was advocating for wheelchairs policy so that each chair fit the person whom it is made for. I had to convince the staff of a Senator who I was speaking with why they needed to understand this issue. I said this: "Not every wheelchair is one size fits all, just like your shoes will not fit me. Your shoes are your size and are comfortable to you. The same is true about someone's wheelchair. The wheelchair has to fit the unique needs of the end-user, which is the person who sits in the wheelchair." My example worked. I took a situation they could not understand because they were not disabled and in a wheelchair. I helped them understand the importance of the wheelchair fitting the person. I used a similar example of their shoes.
Tip #7: Explain to others who feel as you do
Make sure you allow the person you are discussing the issue with to understand that there others who feel as you do. It's important to do your homework and bring it with you to the meeting. This shows that you have others who support this issue. Sort of like your team or army.
Tip #8: Ask them if they understand & support you?
Make sure you ask the person you are discussing the issue with if they have any questions for you. Ask them to support your issue or if their boss/ organization will support the issue. This is important, this way you know when you leave if you have support or more work to do
Tip #9: Thank the person you spoke to
Always be courteous and thank them for their time.
Tip #10: Always Follow up
The most important thing to do is to follow up with the person that you spoke to. Make sure you send an email, letter or phone call thanking them for their time and listening to you.
If the person is a legislator or policymaker, make sure you follow up on the policy and its past, present, and future. Make sure to keep involved with the person or the issue until it is finished.
Now get out there and Advocate the World!