Preparing to Advocate
When going forward with addressing challenges among service providers, here are things you can keep in mind:
- Develop and maintain positive beliefs, expectations and attitudes.
- Have knowledge or talk to someone with knowledge of how to solve problems, identify interests and formulate solutions.
- Do some research so you have knowledge about the area, business, individual, bureaucracy, etc. that you will be approaching with your issue. Get to know who is working with your child and understand their role and what they do.
- Know your rights and the rights of your child and what you can expect from the services your child is receiving.
Collaborating with others will play a big role when you’re becoming an advocate. It takes practice to learn and gain the skills to be an effective collaborator. For some people collaborating comes easily, and for others it takes more time. There are five skill areas that people should work on in order to be an effective collaborator. These are:
1. The ability to facilitate effective meetings.
- Plan ahead and be prepared for meetings or discussions you are having with others. Make sure that all individuals who are involved with resolving the issue are invited and in attendance. Conduct the meeting in a systematic manner and bring closure to the meeting once issues have been resolved.
2. The ability to exchange information and skills.
- When communicating with others it is important to be clear and concise. This will reduce any confusion and make sure that your issue is clear to everyone involved.
3. The ability to address and solve problems.
- In order to effectively address and solve problems you have to learn how to cooperate with others. Be respectful and listen to others who are working with you and your child.
4. The ability to make decisions by consensus.
- Have joint decision-making and consensus with members you are working with. This will maintain healthy working relationships and make the road to resolution easier to follow.
5. The ability to use conflict resolution techniques.
- See below for helpful conflict resolution techniques.
By continuously working to improve these skill areas, your overall confidence and ability to communicate with others will improve.