Advocating: Some Do’s and Don’t’s

If you’re going to support a cause, and attempt to stand as a symbol of that cause, you have to do it right. Whatever it is you’re supporting, what you do and say will always influence the way others view your cause.

I had a bit of a reminder of this today, and it took some time for me to step back and think about it. I usually don’t post on here on Sunday nights (the weekend is “me” time), but I feel like this is much too valuable to pass up on while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Don’t ever, ever lose your cool. If someone is up against you, chances are they would love for you to lose your temper. Getting angry can hurt credibility; so can underhanded remarks and personal jabs. You have to remember that the cause you stand up for is worth whatever emotional abuse you may end up taking it. It’s hard, there’s no doubt about it. Hopefully, your commitment to whatever it is you stand for it enough to keep you strong.

Keep in mind, this is for ANY cause. While my experiences generally have to do with agriculture, any advocate of anything should understand that.
Think of it this way: PETA is well-known for angry, in-your-face attention gimmicks. The Animal Liberation Front has actually resorted to violence in the past. Neither of these groups have very much credibility with the public. HSUS, however, takes a more grounded approach, and has millions of Americans eating right out of their palms.
A few things to make sure you stick to when you’re debating or advocating:
  • Remain polite. No one likes a jerk, and jerks are harder to identify with. Even if you’re rude for a few moments, that can be enough to turn people off.
  • Find a “happy place.” If someone is really, really grinding your gears, figure out a way to cool yourself down.
  • Know when to back down. Some people just can’t be argued with, or can’t take criticism. These are often the people who could get you in trouble. If you don’t think you can calmly handle the situation, perhaps you should just remove yourself from it.
  • Have your facts lined up, with good back-up. A common “move” for anyone trying to refute you is to ask for proof of facts. If you can provide it, your credibility can often be solidified. Sometimes, the people who ask for proof often can’t provide their own.
A wise woman recently said, “Don’t feed the bears.” The last thing your cause needs is for you to encourage more attacks on it.
Keep a cool head on your shoulders, keep the goal in mind, and don’t ever let anyone break you. Good luck, and keep on agvocating!

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