MAKE GUN CONTROL HAPPEN Step 2: How to communicate with elected officials   Leave a comment

One of the many wonderful aspects of living in the United States is that we can have a direct influence on the way we are governed. To do so, you need to become your own advocate with Congress. Members of Congress listen to their constituents. But to be effective, you must communicate properly, Elected officials are people, too, and as you would react negatively to someone who sent you an angry or threatening letter, so do they. To be effective, you need to civil and follow common sense.

 If you use the link supplied in step 1, the computer will place the following etiquette in your email message: The link will prompt you to identify yourself as a constituent by including your name, address and zip code. If you cannot be identified as a constituent, your communication will likely be discarded and not read. If you use the link supplied, your email will also use the proper salutation. For senators it’s “Dear Senator [last name]” and for members of the House of Representatives “Dear Representative [last name]”.

If you are sending an e-mail already prepared for you, take a minute to put the message into your own words. And remember, courteously written communications are more likely to be read and have positive impact than a page or two of raving and ranting.

Here are some other key points to remember in writing to your legislators:

  • Identify the subject in the first paragraph
  • Don’t use threats.
  • Limit your comments to one page or 2 at most.
  • Keep your comments brief, pertinent, and factual. Cover only one issue per letter.
  • Explain how the issue would affect you and/or those associated with you.
  • Include specific examples of how the issue would adversely affect you and suggest an alternative approach if possible.
  • Be constructive, not negative. Propose constructive alternatives.
  • Avoid stereotyped phrases, jargon, and sentences that give the appearance of form letters.

 FOLLOW UP

  • Write a thank you letter. This helps to reinforce the information you communicated in your email. Your follow-up should summarize the conversation, reiterate your points, re-state your request, and request to be notified when the request has been filled.
  • Even if you and your member disagree on an issue, a thank you letter is still appropriate. This is an important part of building a relationship with your representative and may lay the foundation for them to reconsider a position. In this instance your email should acknowledge your differences, thank them for their time and attention in considering concerns, reiterate your arguments, ask them to reconsider their position and let them know that you would like to continue a dialogue on this important issue.
  • Don’t forget that elected officials are people too and they like to be told when they’ve done something right. Send them a congratulatory note when they do something that merits approval.
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Posted February 20, 2013 by Les Linet MD in Gun Control and the Second Amendment

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