Assume Goodwill

Often, when we feel critical of another advocate, we forget that underneath their role (such as executive director, campaign coordinator, or author), there’s a person with feelings, hopes, and needs, a person who will be impacted by our words if we speak out against them. And we forget that the organizations we want to criticize are made up of people who probably care very much about the impact of the work they’re doing.

So before you criticize another advocate or organization—and potentially contribute to infighting—try to assume goodwill. Assume that the advocate or organization that said or did something you disagree with, or framed their message in a way that you found offensive, nevertheless believed that they were doing the right thing.

Before communicating, pause and ask yourself if there might be a good reason for their behavior—not as an excuse for a behavior that you see as problematic, but as an explanation for it. When in doubt, give others the benefit of the doubt. Simply assuming that other advocates’ intentions aren’t necessarily malicious can go a long way to reducing our contribution to infighting.

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