Agitation

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Definition:

Pushing people past their comfort zones and asking them to take more leadership based on shared values and common organizing goals

Key Principles

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  • Agitation is the art of pushing people to become stronger and better leaders. Agitation demonstrates a respect for someone's leadership potential by pushing him or her to take on more leadership. Great organizers are great agitators.
  • Agitation is always done in the context of an organizing relationship. You probably wouldn't have an agitational conversation with someone you've just met. This is because there needs to be trust in the relationship before agitation can be effective.
  • A strong organizing relationship leads to more effective agitation, and agitation deepens organizing relationships.
  • When we agitate, we challenge a person to examine their self-interests, beliefs, and values. In this context, self-interest is the motivation that drives a person to be involved with MoveOn. For example, self-interest might include wanting to make new friends, learn new skills, or to win on a particular issue.
  • Ask probing questions and ask "why?" Dig deep and push the person to move beyond excuses, and to think critically. This type of probing creates contemplation rather than confrontation.
  • Agitation from a place of care and concern. Don't agitate someone if you are frustrated or angry with them. This isn't a moment to judge or be condescending. You are pushing a person to be the best possible leader they can be.
  • Agitation is different from accountability. Accountability is more of a specific plan to hold someone else to the explicit commitment they made. Agitation often includes a bigger picture conversation by asking the other leader to get in touch with their self-interest and take their organizing to a higher level.
  • Agitation is not irritation.
  • Here are some examples of when you might use agitation:
    • A long-term leader is feeling frustrated and is thinking about quitting the Council. You might agitate and push this leader to reconnect with his or her motivations.
    • A council is not consistently participating in most of the National Days of Action. You might agitate the Council Organizer or core members to help them figure out a solution to get back on track.
    • There is a pattern of a member not being accountable for work that has been delegated. You might agitate and see if this member can reconnect with the work.

How To

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  • One can agitate during one-to-one conversations (also known as an indy conversation).
  • Lay out the goal of the conversation. This will give the other person a clear idea of what needs to come out of the discussion.
  • Be direct. Start the conversation by saying what is on your mind. The stronger the relationship, the easier it will be to do this.
  • The agitational conversation should end with clear next-steps. After the conversation, has this person recommitted to the work? Has this person decided to take on a different role, or step down? Both people should be very clear on the outcome. Will the person develop a new skill to do the work more effectively?
  • Successful agitation will involve healthy tension. There is a sense of "movement" after the agitation.

Take-Aways

 

  • 1. Agitation is the art of pushing people to become stronger and better leaders.

 

  • 2. A strong organizing relationship leads to more effective agitation, and agitation deepens organizing relationships.

 

  • 3. Agitation is different from accountability because it pushes people to take their organizing to the next level.