Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Advocacy Tips: You Cannot Persuade if You Don't Persist!

Harassment is a large portion of my job when I schedule congressional meetings for a Lobby Day. Persistence is the more accurate word, but I used the word harassment because that’s what it feels like I’m doing when I call the same office three times in one day, begging to speak with someone because the Lobby Day is tomorrow and we still don’t have a meeting scheduled. It can be uncomfortable to feel like you are bugging someone. And on top of that, I am also frustrated that no one is getting back to me. I wonder why they won’t just respond so that I don’t have to harass them anymore.

Why am I telling you this aside from the fact that I sometimes need to vent? Because many people experience these same sentiments when they are advocating their Members of Congress. They only call or email their Members once about a particular issue, and choose not to follow up because they don’t want to annoy the congressional office. They give up because they reached out once or twice and never heard anything back. I can relate, but my biggest piece of advice to you is to let go of your instinct to pull away. If you stop asking, you will never get what you want. I may have to make 20 phone calls to get that meeting scheduled, but I get it. When an issue that is important to you is down to the wire, don’t feel bad about contacting your congressional office multiple times. Be tactful (don’t call every five minutes), but keep the momentum going. The truth is they want to hear from their constituents. They want to know something is so important to you that you feel the need to call, email, and call again. This is precisely why I have stopped feeling guilty for calling an office three times in one day, because I know at the end of the day they want to meet with their constituents. Finally, don’t be discouraged when they don’t get back to you- it doesn’t mean they aren’t listening. Plus, I can almost guarantee that if you stay persistent you will eventually get a response. Now whether you get the response you want.. is something we’ll tackle another day. 

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