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Effective Advocacy

Discussion in 'Campaigning discussions' started by skoster, Sep 10, 2009.

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  1. skoster

    skoster Full Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Edgewater, MD
    As requested, I am reposting this to a new thread. I edited the excessive introduction and conclusion.

    Here are some ideas which may help future advocacy work end up with more people wanting to agree with a position. Please keep in mind that I am not a politician or a political advocate, what I am saying is based in my knowledge of social pragmatics skills and remediating those skills in adults with acquired neurological disorders and children on the autism spectrum. Professional politicians and advocates probably have much more refined knowledge and I would defer to them regarding specific advocacy advice.

    1. If you're a member of an organisation disclose it immediately, especially if it's a formally incorporated organisation. Your organisation is something to be proud of! You do advocacy through it, provide education, establish industry standards and practices, and hopefully fund science. Your mindset should be that your opinion is valuable *because* of your affiliation, not *despite* it!

    2. Tone your posts as a discussion instead of an argument. If someone says "the FDA found X chemical in e-cigs" then instead of replying "you're wrong because X chemical was in only one cart, do your research", you might try "hey thanks for pointing that out, I went to their website and read their report and it looks like it was only in one cart, here's the links I used do you have any more information so we can keep getting to the bottom of this?". See how the first statement sets up the two people in opposition, whereas the second one sets them up as allies working together? It's much easier to convince an ally than an opponent.

    3. If someone makes a valid point, don't try to explain it away. Rational people are willing to accept the world as imperfect, they'll accept some flaws with PVs. When people say "there aren't enough studies showing it's safe", instead of saying "it's gotta be safer than tobacco" try something like "you're right, and that's why we are gathering money to do more tests/have a letter writing campaign to the manufacturers asking them to do more testing". Treat this as an opportunity to find a place of agreement and assuage their concerns, from there you can work towards other places of agreement.

    4. Avoid putting words into people's mouths and turning their narrow statement into a broad statement. If I said "It contains chemical X which is found in antifreeze." and the reply was "So you are for a total ban of all salami because it's in that too?" I would immediately be angry and defensive because that is not whatsoever what I said or meant. Know your goal. If you're doing advocacy that goal should be to win people's support, not to win arguments against them.

    5. If one person has already responded to someone's points, don't jump on the bandwagon. No one likes being ganged up on and the probability of two people settling a disagreement is much higher than 1 person settling a disagreement with what they perceive as a mob of attackers. If you really feel you have a point then send it via PM to the person you think needs help in explaining their side. What's more important, that you get to say your piece or that the cause you're fighting for wins support?

    6. If you cannot end with an agreement, at least end on a conciliatory note. Something like "it just doesn't look like we can see eye to eye on this right now, maybe if we both go and do more research we can find information which helps us agree" at least leaves things open, and even though the chances are that you'll never end up agreeing it looks a lot better to people reading the thread than "you're a ....., I'm done talking to you!". Having people think "wow, that guy is a jerk" doesn't motivate them to go learn more, and much of the time the people you impact are not the ones replying to the thread.

    7. Don't insult, belittle, dismiss, condescend to, ridicule or otherwise mistreat people. Spend a minute in the other guy's shoes, how would you feel if someone said what you're about to say to them to you? Would you want to be called (or have it inferred that you are) ignorant, stupid, uneducated, valueless, childish, etc. Regardless of the fact that it is incredibly rude, it will definitely close people's minds and lose any chance that they will see your side of an issue.

    8. Finally, remember that you're walking into someone else's house when you post in a forum. Be respectful of their rules and accept it if they say that something isn't welcome.

    If you want to sum all this up into one easy to remember idea, it's that doing advocacy work is making friends. When the person you talked to goes to vote on the cause you advocate, you want them to think "I don't want my friend to lose". They need to feel personally connected to your cause and they get that by feeling personally connected to you.

    In Friendship,
    • Like Like x 1
  2. SudokuGal

    SudokuGal Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Jul 15, 2009
    Good posting. Thanks!
  3. CJsKee

    CJsKee Super Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Apr 1, 2009
    Thanks Seth...a "whirlwind" of fresh air!!! Everyone will benefit from this.
  4. degnr8

    degnr8 Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 29, 2009
    Very nice post Skoster! As a professional agitator the only thing I would add is to make sure you're easy to understand. Don't get bogged down in jargon & when you go from point A to point D make sure you explain what B & C were.
  5. kinabaloo

    kinabaloo Vaping Master ECF Veteran

    These points should be born in mind even when we debate among ourselves. It's not easy when the other person is agressive - either in manner or being alsolutist in their position and seemingly unwilling to acknowledge that there is another way of looking at things, but it's nearly always the better way.

    I've broken many of these, most of us have, but i will try to do better. Certainly when facing out to the public we must do our very best to think first about how to make a point or reply, and how to express it.

    When you politely leave a debate (having made your point), remember that the seed might grow later.
  6. TiggerST67

    TiggerST67 Full Member

    May 28, 2009
    West Memphis,AR
    This was very helpful for me thanks for posting it. I have been in contact with many organizations/groups on this issue, and have followed the suggestions posted here. After many emails, phone calls, I finally got a few moments to discuss the e cigarette with my senator face to face. Instead of barraging her with facts and figures, I let her know how the e cig has affected me and people I know personally, and the concerns we had about the FDA stance on the e cig. As a result of that meeting, her office requested and now has a file on the e cig for her to refer to when future legislation is up for a vote. It only took me four months to accomplish this! Hopefully this will help us in the future!
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Vocalek

    Vocalek CASAA Activist ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Apr 7, 2009
    Springfield, VA
    Wow! Great work Tigger, and hope to see more posts from you.
  8. Koman

    Koman Moved On ECF Veteran

    Jan 7, 2010
    Very well put man!
  9. thejeff

    thejeff Senior Member

    Fantastic post, Skoster! This should be required reading for new members. Thank you for the time spent assembling this!
  10. Tail11

    Tail11 Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 13, 2012
    nor cal
    Great post. It reminds me of what common courtesy was long ago.
  11. mrfixit

    mrfixit Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Oct 28, 2012
    Akron, Ohio
    Awesome set of rational guidelines. After saying that I can't help but feel that it apply to only a certain percentage of posters in an average topiced or specific topiced thread. I have on to many occasions come across a great thread only to see it degrade into my way is better than your way because it cost more or was made in the country by this person using these exclusive materials,ingredients ect...

    I know that all threads don't end up like this and that there are many fine,intelligent,articulate persons who contribute some the best blogs,posts,dissertations in some cases I've ever read. I've been trying to come up with some ideas for presenting our side of things to those that wish to brand us basically as deviants for wanting to do what we do. I keep coming back to all the vape meets,bashes and big shindigs being each month or yearly and think hey why don't we just take our best vapping gear and our best and brightest vapping celebs and go to the source for a serious vape meet. Sending emails or making calls is nice and in some cases very effective. I think though if we showed up in Washington with a sizeable group of responsible vappers we could make a big impact on public opinion and dazzle them with our sincerity and passion about how these simple products transformed not just our lives but many others. Well a man can dream can't he? Or have they taken that away already and I missed the memo.
  12. aikanae1

    aikanae1 Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Feb 2, 2013
    I think your idea is quite reasonable and practicle. Many of the monied interests that would like to control the marketplace using regulations do pay to influence officials, both elected and appointed. There is no reason that local vaping groups can not be instructed on how to approach elected representatives about vaping and present with their stories. In effect, we need to become our own lobbyists and educate those we vote for what it is we are talking about. I have a hunch many of them have never seen an ecig outside of a convinence store.

    Most representatives take breaks and return to their home district so a trip to D.C. may not be needed. Much of the battle lately has been local and in the states anyway.

    If I were to add one thing to the list it would be to encourage people to talk from their own experiences and to not feel like they need to be armed with data and facts. I think many people feel they aren't good speakers and want to leave it up to others because they under value their journey and what vaping means to them when that is precisly what most politican's need to hear and it's usually missing from the debte. The passion that most vapers have for the freedom from smoking is quite moving and compelling - it's also something corporations can't duplicate. It does not need to be perfect, just personal.

    The other point I think is important is that winning support is not about winning a debate. Most people, including representatives are able to easily remember 3 main points - and at most 5 or 6 but that's stretching it. Pick 3 conclusions, goals or talking points and don't stray off into other topics otherwise it becomes rambling or lecturing and everything is lost. Short and to the point is more memorable.

    The OP's post is a very good list for creating any kind of win-win discussion rather than having a topic turn into a win-loose debate.
  13. Koman

    Koman Moved On ECF Veteran

    Jan 7, 2010
    Agreed, seems to make sense!
  14. JulesXsmokr

    JulesXsmokr Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    good writing there... If I could get myself to remember that while trying to convey a message, I always seem to start there, but sometimes I drift to the opposite pole..

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