Advocacy is a skill that combines knowledge, good judgment and creative problem solving. Building skills for advocacy also requires building and promoting the ability to engage with a wide range of people. To engage with others effectively, communication is needed!
To communicate with impact, the goal is to: obtain what is appropriate, create opportunities for success, establish relationships, and to establish and continue negotiations.
Negotiation is a method by which people settle differences. It is the process of discussing something with someone in order to reach an agreement.
How to prepare for communicating and negotiating
Be aware of your emotions. Feelings can influence the way people overcome conflict, reach agreement, and create value! Emotional control can play an important role in successful communication and negotiations.
Realize that teams will have rough spots. Know what your “hot buttons” are – what triggers your emotions? Also, examine your assumptions. By being aware of hot buttons and assumptions, we can be more effective team members.
Be aware that:
- Everyone is an individual.
Personalities can be a distinct challenge in any interaction.
- We all have our own opinions and, at times, our own agendas.
- We all have different communication styles.
Successful communication is….
The ability to listen, without interference, to the message being delivered.
Discussing a concept in an open, receptive manner that allows both sides to hear and understand the message and appropriately respond to that message in a constructive way.
Assuring that discussion points are presented clearly so that the issue is accurately understood.
Understanding that communication is not limited to what we can hear. It includes body language - messages or responses sent through facial expressions, eyes and body. Correctly interpreting body language is challenging, yet necessary to accurately understand the message delivered by the sender.
We may not always agree. It is not the fact that we disagree; it is HOW we disagree that makes all the difference in good communication.
Adapted from “Families as Advocates: Your role at the CSE” workshop, by Family Support Service Program Coordinator Maritza Cubi