I’m a political being and a news junkie. Can’t help it. It’s in my blood – literally – because both my father and grandfather (Dad’s father) were journalists, both avidly interested in politics. In fact, Grampa’s beat was Congress for Gannett Press in Washington, DC. (Reginald F. Torrey)
See? I come by it naturally.
Which is why the news of last week, the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump’s actions, is painful to me.
Now – do NOT get me wrong. It’s not painful because I do, or do not, disagree with it! That’s not it at all.
They have been the fastest, most exhausting, most rewarding, and most humbling years of my life… And they result in a story in which the universe has played quite a large role.
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:
Suppose I go to my favorite pizza shop and this conversation takes place:
Me: I would like a pepperoni pizza with black olives, onions, and extra cheese.
Johnny the Pizza Guy: Sure! I’d be happy to help you with this pizza. But first let me tell you all about my pizza experiences – the reason I like to make pizzas. When I was little, we went to my grandmother’s house for dinner every Wednesday. My grandmother always made meatloaf. She made meatloaf with ground beef and always made gravy and mashed potatoes to go with it. It tasted good. It was filling. Then one Wednesday after eating dinner at Grandma’s (and realizing that it didn’t quite taste the same) my brother got really sick and started to throw up. Then the rest of us started to get sick, too. My mother was worried, so she took us to the ER, and sure enough – Grandma’s meatloaf, which had been tried and true and never changed… Well. She had made it with pork this time, the pork hadn’t cooked through, and we all got food poisoning. So now I make pizza.
Me: Seriously? I come in here to order a pizza and I have to listen to that story? Forget it. I don’t want your pizza anymore.
Now, of course, not only will I not get my pizza, but I have to figure out what to do next, and make all new arrangements for dinner!
I know. You think I’ve really lost it now, but bear with me to see how this applies to you, as an independent advocate.
“Only rich people can afford an advocate.”
Or: “Doesn’t providing private patient advocacy services only to those who can afford them, just create one more division between the “haves” and the “have nots?”
Or: “Not everyone can afford an independent patient advocate. It’s unfair some people can’t be helped.”
Anyone who has worked in advocacy or care management has heard one or more of these statements, or at least one from the same playbook. It’s an objection meant to put us on the defensive, as if, since private advocacy can’t be provided to everyone, then we shouldn’t provide it to anyone.
Don’t let anyone put YOU on the defensive this way! It’s a foolish argument. Here’s why: