Essential Job Skill: Speaking Up for Animals

By Paula Fitzsimmons

If you want a career advocating for animals, you’ll need to get comfortable speaking out for them. Being their voice is an enormous responsibility, and can feel intimidating, but learning a few basic skills can help you speak out effectively . . .without losing your sanity in the process.

Some careers require more advanced communication skills than others – a public relations manager will obviously need to speak out more than an animal caregiver, for instance. Regardless of your position, you’ll need decent communication skills, because you’re representing not only yourself, but an entire organization.

Practicing even one of these tips can make a difference.


Keep your cool

You’ve probably seen those online posts where tempers flare, angry emoticons appear, and name-calling ensues. Let me ask you this: Do you feel inspired by these types of posts? Chances are, when someone is attacking you, the last thing on your mind is trying to understand that person’s point-of-view.

Confrontation shuts down the possibility for meaningful dialog – and with it, an opportunity to plant a proverbial seed.

If you do find yourself in an online – or real world – dual, simply move on. That debate will likely be forgotten in no time, anyway.


Stick with the facts

In most cases, weighing down debates with personal conviction is unhelpful. Chances are, you won’t be able to convince someone to think exactly as you do. Everyone has a different perspective . . .and this is true even within the animal welfare community. The best we can do is try to make people aware.

Instead of exposing that soft center of yours, state the facts, and let them speak for themselves. Being objective lets you depersonalize the argument – which means those criticisms won’t hurt as much.

Speaking up should ultimately be about what’s in the best of interest of the animals – not our personal feelings. Learning to take ourselves out of the equation is not only better for the animals, but is also sanity saver.


Why blow time online trying to convince someone who may not want to be convinced? Use that hour or two you’d spend arguing on social media to do something positive for animals.

Need ideas? I have plenty.


Learn to become a critical thinker

Speaking of facts, where are you getting yours? Are you certain the source of your information is reliable and not biased in any way?

Just because everyone else commenting on a subject is united in their opinion or perception, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re accurate.

Which is what makes critical thinking skills super important. Become good at connecting the dots, and trusting your own thought processes, especially when something doesn’t quite make sense.


Have the courage of your convictions

Speaking out can be a lonely experience – especially when confronting people who disagree with your values. Don’t assume other advocates will always have your back, either. There may be times when you’re the only voice in the crowd. And this is exactly what the animals need – people who aren’t afraid of speaking out when it counts the most.


Learn to communicate effectively with legislators

It’s a sad statement, but politicians are apt to make decisions based on what’s best for their own careers. This is not to say all politicians are bad – but it’s a messy system, and strengthening animal welfare laws requires that advocates understand what drives the process.

This is where Get Political for Animals really shines. Written by a former animal rights lobbyist, Julie Lewin knows better than most what motivates politicians to act for animals. This book will help guide you through the process of engaging politicians, and helping those who are the most animal-friendly, to get elected. It’s beneficial whether you’re planning a career in animal advocacy or are a citizen who wants to effect change within your community.

Julie also offers webinars, workshops, and personal consultations through her organization, National Institute for Animal Advocacy.

Please note: the book is an affiliate link. If you click on the above book image and make a purchase, I will earn a commission – which helps with the costs associated with running Animal Jobs Digest.


Realize you’re not perfect

In a perfect world, we would implement the above suggestions without fail . . .but the truth is, nobody is flawless. If you make a faux pas, accept that you’re not perfect, promise yourself to learn from your mistakes, and move on.


Learning to communicate effectively for animals is essential whether you work for an animal organization or are representing yourself. Speaking out is not always easy, but remembering a few basics can help you improve your skills – and be a force for good for the animals.



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