Saying No and Refusing to Serve: How to Draw That Line

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If we have learned anything about ourselves in the past 10 days, it’s that there are some people in this world we will never be able to understand or condone. Between the skirmishes in Charlottesville, VA, and the killings in Barcelona and elsewhere; I am reminded that I will NEVER understand hate. I will NEVER condone racism, or neo-nazi-ism, or jihad, or white supremacy – or killing. Period.

As I watched it all unfold through the news, I asked myself, What would I do if one of those people whose attitudes and opinions I find so repugnant asked me to be their advocate?

The answer came easily. I would say no. 

I’m guessing that most of you would want to say NO, too – but would not know how to do so. So I am providing you here with justification and tactics to effectively, legally, and ethically draw a line between who we will, and who we won’t, provide advocacy services to.

Who we WILL work with – is fairly easy.  We’ll serve almost anyone who needs our skill set, in a geography we can serve, who is willing to sign our contract, who can afford to pay us to do that work.

Who we WON’T or DON’T WANT to work with – is more complex, in particular because of our Code of Ethics and Professional Standards, and possibly because of the law.

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Do You Pass the Trust Muster? Says Who? Announcing Background Checks for Health Advocates

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We were all there at one time; that point in early adulthood when we realized we needed someone to guide us as we saved money for our futures and retirement. We didn’t understand much (if anything at all) about investing, or 401Ks or IRAs or REITs or annuities. We were confused. We thought we would miss something important.

We needed an expert – an investment advisor!  Someone who truly understood all this investing and saving stuff, terminology, possibilities, to help make it happen…. Someone who could hold our hands over time as needed….

Someone we could trust with our money. Someone we would trust to hold our futures in their hands.

A VERY tall order!

So how did we find that right person?  We asked friends and others we trusted if they could recommend someone. We might have interviewed a few advisors. These days, many people go to the Internet to try to figure it out. But most of us didn’t have that tool when we started saving, so we relied on recommendations, and sometimes on credentials they had earned, or bonds they held.

For most of us it probably worked out just fine. If the first one or two didn’t work out as we liked, we had the liberty of making a change. Many variables including our working track records, our ability to set money aside, and the knowledge and abilities of that person we eventually trusted to recommend investments have affected our savings as time has gone on. For most of us, it remains to be seen whether we made the right choices for the long haul.

But clearly – our entire financial futures have been predicated on our abilities to find the right person to TRUST with our money.

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How to Avoid P*ssing Off the Doctor in One Easy Step

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OK – granted – I used that title to get your attention, but there’s a lesson here for all of us whether we use it for our clients, or for ourselves, or for a loved one — and that is — how to share information you have learned about symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment, without putting your provider on the defensive, or upsetting him / her.

Too often I hear people I know, or (worse) a health or patient advocate, say “I TOLD that doctor … (fill in the blank)”.  Argh. It makes me cringe. Because such an approach will most definitely elicit the opposite response to what they intended.

We’ll begin by putting this shoe on the other foot….

Suppose you’ve been baking chocolate chip cookies all your adult life. These are cookies that are SO VERY EXCELLENT that you have developed a fine reputation for them. They are sought after for all the best bake sales. You are legend among your neighbors for showing up with a plate of cookies when family is coming in from out of town, or they are celebrating something big. YOU and DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES have become synonymous in everyone’s mind.

You’re very proud (even if only secretly) of your fine chocolate chip cookie reputation. Not that you go around boasting about it – you wouldn’t do that. But you know that when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, you are da bomb.

Recently, new neighbors moved in across the street, a young couple with little children. It’s time to take some of your most excellent cookies to them as a welcome gift.

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What Gator Head Windchimes Can Teach Us About a Healthy Advocacy Practice

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My husband and I moved 14 months ago to Florida. Since then, each time I’ve been on the highway, I’ve seen billboards which have fascinated me. They advertise the Florida Citrus Centers which are roadside tourist stops where you can buy (yes, you guessed it) – oranges, grapefruit, limes and other fruit, plus other Florida-related souvenirs.

But until last week, I had never stopped at one of the Citrus Centers, despite a 14 month curiosity…

The curiosity is right there on that billboard photo above: Gator Head Wind Chimes. What on earth would an alligator head wind chime look like? Would it be one alligator head with wind chimes hanging off it? Or would it be a big circle with alligator heads hanging from it, knocking against each other to create the “chime”? (clunk, clunk, clunk)

Then, of course, because my family members are all a little whacky, with great senses of humor, I pictured my brother-in-law opening one of these monstrosities for Christmas… Just thinking about it made me laugh out loud! I had to get one!

Last week my husband and I left for our vacation, driving north to visit family and friends. As soon as we hit the highway, we saw the first of those billboards….

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A Rose by Any Other Name Might Ruin a Client Relationship

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Words matter. Descriptions matter. Names matter.

And we, as advocates, need to pay attention to words, descriptions, and names – and take steps to use them correctly, and as desired. The problem is – sometimes we don’t know when we’re violating that axiom.

I was reminded of this a few times recently, not the least of which caused my husband some consternation.

He and I have different last names. We were older when we married, and because I was already professionally known by my maiden name (Torrey), I didn’t want to change my name. Before we married, we discussed my wish to keep my maiden name, and he was surprised I would consider doing anything but keep it! So that was that.

However, in these ensuing 10+ years, my maiden name has caused him some pause and opened his eyes. Last week, for the umpteenth time, he was called “Mr. Torrey”, and later that day when our postal mail arrived, and there were two pieces of junk mail addressed to “Mr. Warren Torrey”… Well – let’s just say that he didn’t look favorably upon any of the guilty parties. It’s not HIS name, and he takes umbrage to someone assuming it is.

Women, especially, get that.

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