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Step Aside Pollyanna! There’s No Room Here for You
This is a message with a little tough love for some of the folks I encounter – Pollyannas – who are choosing advocacy as career move. Sorry Pollyanna – but there is no room for you in patient advocacy. You have a choice: you can either learn to overcome your inner Pollyanna or you can find yourself another profession. Pollyannaism can too easily get in the way of the professionalism required of good, competent advocates, and can result in deficient service to clients. The Pollyanna Advocate Pollyanna is a fictional character from children’s literature, who is known for always being positive – too positive. Her default is to trust blindly. She is foolishly and naïvely optimistic. To be clear – I do believe there is plenty of room for optimism in advocacy! Clients are happier and well-served by an advocate or care manager with a friendly smile and a positive outlook on life. But that’s not the same as the Pollyannaism of blind trust or naïveté. The negative effects of being a Pollyanna in the advocacy business range from substandard client service and outcomes, to advocates going out of business. Here are a few real-life advocacy and care management examples: The Pollyanna Advocate and Client Engagement Just because your phone rings with a possible new client on the other end, and just because you are helpful to that person, doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a new client. Pollyanna Advocate discloses too much and the potential client client just hangs up the phone. No contract. No work. No pay. Eventually Pollyanna Advocate goes out of business. Too much trust leads to lose-lose for your future clients, and for you, too. If instead you learn how to handle those phone calls effectively in order to maximize the chances of engagement (and minimize giving too much away!), you’ll create win-win instead. The Pollyanna Advocate Who Doesn’t Get Paid So – you managed to engage a new client… contract reviewed and signed… off you go! You do great work, outcomes are good, your client is happy, you send your invoice…. But, no payment.…