Advocacy Musings for March 18
An elderly aunt of mine used to trot out sayings related to weather, throughout the year. One of my favourites was “mackerel sky, not very long wet, not very long dry.” There may be variations of this saying but however it is expressed what it refers to is that when cloud formations are tightly bunched together like the markings of that fish you’re going to get lots of showers of rain with bright intervals in between.
The saying she had for March was: “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb!” And, of course, vice versa. That’s an interesting one. I’ve tried to monitor its accuracy over the years but by the time the end of the month comes I’ve always forgotten what the weather was like at the beginning.
However, I do think it is quite apt to apply it in an advocacy setting. I have noticed in the past that an advocate who goes into a situation on behalf of their advocacy partner, roaring like a lion and creating storms with their indignation, demands and aggressive demeanour may well end up eventually being meek and mild and lamb-like and coming away with no useful outcome. The reverse might be true too but there is something to be said to going in to a meeting, a conference or a conversation gently as an advocate, weighing up the situation and producing your claws later if and when necessary. Too often I’ve seen advocates get people’s backs up through being too strong and forthright too quickly or get hot under the collar and make devastatingly strong points too late when things have been decided and the opportunity for challenge and change has passed.
Weighing it up I think I am in favour of having a style that is more like the mackerel sky. When we need to rain on someone’s parade for the sake of a point that has to be made let’s do so but there’s no harm in being sunny when we can be too. I was once told that I was too critical as an advocate and on reflection I could see that I might have been coming over that way. So to give praise when praise is due is important too. I do think though that being a mackerel sky is something that I approve of.
Now, another of my Aunty’s saying: “Ne’er cast a clout till May is out.” What’s all that about?
Peter Dawson – Advocate/Senior Advocacy Development Worker, Peaks and Dales Advocacy.
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