by Marsha Rakestraw

When I was a new activist in my late teens, I yelled at people.

I used unkind language. I tried to shame them and argue them into changing their behaviors.

I had a lot of passion, but zero awareness that not all activism is good activism.

I didn’t realize that my actions and attitude toward others were causing much more harm than good.

When I entered IHE’s certificate program, I learned about the importance of compassionate communication and effective advocacy. And I saw the difference it made when I engaged with others with compassion and mindfulness.

Recently, vegan author and speaker, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, did a great podcast on the “10 Habits of Highly Effective Advocates.”

Here are some of the habits she talks about. Highly effective advocates:

  1. convey that being vegan is a means to an end and not an end itself.
    “Compassion is the goal; veganism is the way to get there.”
  2. recognize and truly believe that non-vegans are compassionate.
    “We humans have a great capacity to compartmentalize our emotions … and then justify our behavior so that we can sleep at night.”
  3. are humble.
    “We know we’re no better than anyone else for being vegan; we’re just better than who we used to be.”
  4. make connections rather than create separations.
    They ask themselves, “Do I want to be right or do I want to be effective?”
  5. know that compassion is unconditional.
    “Compassion isn’t compassion unless it is felt for everyone — the guilty and the non-guilty, the kind and the unkind, the good and the evil.”
  6. know the power of words, communication, and language.
    It means “knowing the difference between words that provoke thought and those that provide shock.”

For the full list (including an unofficial 11th habit), check out Colleen’s podcast.

While her focus is on veganism, the advice is relevant for anyone wanting to be a more effective changemaker for a better world.