Building Relationships Through Advocacy

There’s a problem. Most people will complain and offer empty ended suggestions to no one in particular. Then you will usually have one or two who will step up and do something about it. They will take the problem, hear all the issues, and will do something about it. They will reach out, find the ones who can make the changes needed happen, and push for whatever reform is needed, and become an advocate of that issue.

But advocacy work isn’t always easy. It’s hard. It’s tiring. At times it can even be down right defeating. For every step forward you make there always seems to be someone there to push you two steps back. Just when you figure something out, the game changes again. At some point you realize that it can’t be you against the world. It must be everyone at the party in synch during the two-step.

But how do you get there?

Building the relationships. Breaking through those barriers can be one of the hardest parts of the process. No one likes it when an outsider comes in to stir the pot and ruffle the feathers. They are skeptical. They question your motives. They put up the wall for you to tare down brick by brick, and hope you get tired and give up.

Over the past year I have worked to build those relationships through the PCS Reform efforts. Some relationships have been easier to build than others. Other relationships have required the careful process of planting a seed, and hoping you water it enough to keep it alive. Its not always easy. After all, no one enjoys hearing that a program they are in charge of is failing.

During my journey I have been fortunate that some the relationships that I thought would be the hardest to form have become the easiest. Its refreshing to be able to have the conversations that need to be had, to be able to hear all sides of the issues from each party involved, and to find common ground on the issues. Some of the most receptive people that I have encountered were the ones that I thought would have been the most closed off.

When you have the goal of trying to solve a problem, to improve a program, you have to be willing to reach across the table, shake hands, hear the perspective and discuss the issues and solutions together. The relationships you build a long the way are vital on getting to the end game.

With the PCS process, there seems to be 2 sides of the table working together. Will the third join the party and learn the two step with them?

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