Do you feel hesitant or unprepared when you're asked or want to call your lawmakers on a big issue? You're not alone. It's normal to feel nervous the first few times you contact your U.S. representative or senators. We want to make the process as smooth as possible. We've been helping people connect with their elected officials for a long time.
So, here are some tips for when you receive an "action alert" in your email or hear about an issue on which you want to make your voice heard.
Be concise. Most of the time, it is more than enough to say something like: "Hi, this is Sally Smith. I'm a constituent and am calling to ask Senator X to vote no/yes on this bill."
It's OK if the person answering the phone does not take down your name. They might ask for your address and zip code, so they can confirm you are actually a constituent of that particular representative or senator. That's normal.
And if you want to talk to someone more on the issue, you can. We typically provide a few extra talking points in the Action Center, where you'll find the information about the action alert and your legislator's contact information, that you can use.
Be confident. Remember, your representative and senators work for you. Not the other way around. The person answering the phone is there to tally responses from constituents in favor of or opposed to legislation. They are not there to argue with you about the merits of the bill.
But what if that happens? What if you are mistreated, ignored or — even worse — belittled by the staff member who takes your call?
- Be courteous. No matter what happens, always be polite to those who work for your lawmaker. It’s a great witnessing opportunity. We provide feedback forms for you to let us know how your phone call went. And you can always e-mail us your feedback. If need be, we will connect with your lawmaker’s office to encourage his or her staff to communicate more hospitably with constituents.
We know it takes courage to reach out and connect with Capitol Hill or your state legislature. But the more you practice, the easier it will get. To those of you who regularly take action on family issues, thank you. To those of you are new to this challenge: take heart! Your lawmakers work for you, and they need to hear your voices.
If you've never contacted your elected officials, give it a try today. Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. If you'd rather e-mail your lawmakers, we can help with that, too. However you choose to take action, remember these steps: be concise, be confident, and be courteous.