Advocacy Best Practices

First in a series of the best ways to get what you want from elected officials.

You Catch More Bees with Honey 

Scientists are often taken aback after I explain that being polite is the best way to have a productive meeting with elected officials. 

Bee in Flower

If you want someone’s help with something, just ask nicely.  However, when was the last time “nicely” and politics went together?   When I take physicists to meet their congressional representatives, I often see a hint of incredulity in their eyes – that is, they don’t believe that being nice and politics mix well together. 

A Hollywoodized version of government, especially Congress, is also entrenched in their minds, leading to many false beliefs.  The myth that you’ll get thrown out of a congressional member’s office if don’t agree with him or her is one that needs to be debunked. 

It’s best to be nice because politeness gets results.  Think of the last time someone asked you for help.  Did they start off accusing you of destroying the country?  Of course not!  They were polite and respectful; a civil discussion ensued, I bet.  It’s the same way with elected officials and their staffs.

It’s important to remember that as a constituent (AKA: a voter), you are the representative’s boss.  Representatives and staffers know this and are going to be as helpful as possible.  And don’t worry if you have a polite disagreement over a topic.  In fact, congressional staffers should worry because, as a constituent (remember: a voter) you wield influence.  So, if you leave the office unhappy, you are a voter who can work to get someone else elected – someone who will be more helpful to you.

So remember, be polite; it can only pay off!

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