All We Really Need to Know About Being Good Advocates We Learned in Kindergarten

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All We Really Need to Know About Being Good Advocates We Learned in Kindergarten

As children across the US and Canada start kindergarten this time of the year, I’m reminded of Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a classic, published more than 30 years ago. I’ve actually written about advocates and the kindergarten principles before, years ago, as applied to some real negativity we were experiencing as a profession then. But today’s piece is updated, much more positive, and contains some further advice not shared then. So much of this kindergarten wisdom is appropriate to our successful running of an independent advocacy or care management practice – no matter whether it’s back-to-school time or not. So, with a nod to author Fulghum, let’s review. 1. Be Respectful and Expect to Be Respected in Return This is 360o advice: be respectful of others, and expect them to return the same. Now, you might respond “Yeah… Duh! Of course!” but I’m constantly amazed at the stories I hear about disrespect in relation to advocacy.  I’ve heard about: Advocates who are disrespectful to providers, and on the flip side, advocates who don’t command respect from providers, not politely correcting them when those providers are less than respectful to them. Advocates who are disrespected by clients. That is unacceptable patient behavior. Advocates who talk baby talk to older people, or call them “honey” or “sweetie.” … and more. If advocates are to continue on our path toward become among the MOST ETHICAL of professions, we must always be respectful, and command respect in return. 2. Make Friends Early in advocacy, it seemed there was a great deal of tension among the pioneers who were starting this new profession. Further, many advocates were faced with providers who did not want them “interfering” in their relationships with patients. Now, 10 years in, I hear very little of that – at least not like we used to. In fact, as I observe advocates, whether it’s in the APHA Discussion Forum, or at our PracticeUP! Bootcamps, or at other events, the camaraderie is impressive, extremely helpful, and just plain delightful!  In particular, when advocates gather…


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