People who are members of disability royalty, and that include staff, funders, policy makers as well as individuals, families, and friends, are by definition in it for the long haul. Their lobbying, petitioning and advocacy will continue for a lifetime. Chances are they will be engaged with the same people and the same departments more than once or twice. That makes it even more important to pay attention to their individual and collective reputation.
That’s why more and more are becoming a relationship-based advocates. They are changing the script and no longer taking their cues from those who want to demonize, ridicule or sermonize. They are holding themselves to a higher standard.
Relationship-based advocates focus on the means as well as the ends. They:
- Strengthen relationships while seeking solutions
- Create the conditions for joint problem solving
- Demonstrate trust and open heartedness
- Attract new allies, inside and outside government
- Practice civility and respect, addressing the issue not the character of the individual(s) involved
- Build a base for addressing the next set of challenges.
Relationship-based advocates aren’t going soft. In fact, it requires more discipline to not let cynicism, fear or despair get the best of them. They pursue their goals as steadfastly as anyone but with a different mindset. After all they have a ‘crown’ to protect.
For more on this topic, join Vickie and me for our next webinar, Advocate With Empathy, Tuesday January 24 (9am PST, 12pm EST) when we chat with Donna Thomson, author, blogger, parent and caregiving advocate. You can register here.
Donna has a particular knack for bringing hospitality and civility into all her conversations and meetings. She understands that her effectiveness as an advocate depends on her ability to understand the challenges of people on the other side of the desk whether they are politicians, public servants or agency administrators. Donna is the epitome of a relationship-based advocate.