You’ve met Susan and Elena of Bad Mother Advocate: Fighting for your Family. They are moms, military spouses, and advocating mommas. When you last heard from them they were sharing their ideas on formulating an advocacy plan.
Where are Susan and Elena with that plan? Well, you’re about to find out.
Lesson Two: Ask, Ask, Ask!
Why are we asking questions when we should be putting a plan together? Because the best way to put together your advocacy plan is to ask questions. It’s the only way to gain the information you are seeking.
The same basic questions we learned in elementary school are the most useful tools in your advocacy toolbox: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Asking these questions help us gather data, generate ideas, and evaluate solutions. Embrace your inner child, be curious, and ask questions.
You know you are unhappy with something. Unfortunately, oftentimes people tend to generalize what they are unhappy about and that creates a barrier to change. “People drive dangerously in my neighborhood.” “The school isn’t helping my child.” “My doctor is terrible.” As valid as these thoughts and feelings might be, they aren’t really helpful to change. On the other hand, asking questions enables you to identify specific objectives, find your target audience, support sources, and potential solutions.
Take the “People drive dangerously in my neighborhood” example. Ranting to our friends, neighbors, and strangers that people are selfish and they should be tarred and feathered might make you feel a bit better, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Let’s take a look at how asking questions helps formulate an advocacy plan.
You’re driving down Huntsman Boulevard People, not the Indy 500
- What am I upset about or what do I want to change? People drive too fast on my street, and you feel it’s unsafe.
- Why does that upset me? My street is where the school bus does morning pick up and afternoon drop off. With so many children crossing the street, mine included, I’m afraid they will get hurt. Drivers don’t always pay attention to how fast they are driving in my neighborhood.
- When is dangerous driving most likely to be problematic? In the morning and afternoon.
- How can this be solved? A crossing guard, a traffic light, speed bumps, increased law enforcement presence.
- Who has the ability to make changes? The county executive? The school board? A city safety commission? City Hall?
- Where might I find support or help? Other parents? The school board?
As you can see running through a series of questions with yourself or someone else gives you a pretty decent outline of what the problem is, potential solutions, who to approach, and potential allies.
Questions are powerful tools to learn, build relationships, manage or coach people, avoid misunderstandings, avoid unnecessary conflicts, and of course persuade others to your point of view.
Tying this lesson of Ask, Ask, Ask in with our first lesson of harnessing the mad and speaking honey, you will find that your plan is coming together nicely. When you move onto the next step, which is doing your research, you will have a goal that you are working toward.
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