Talk to Congress the Right Way

Don’t worry, my headline might be misleading — this isn’t from the "General, don’t call me ma’am, call me Senator" category of Congressional communication.

Though you too are instructed to be a little full of yourself when communicating with Congress. Grassroots consultant Christopher Kush spoke with recently, explaining ways for constituents to effectively communicate with government. He makes some interesting points about relating on an emotional level about your story rather than simply spewing wonky talking points about issues:

In your book, you talk about the importance of telling your story. What do you mean by that?

Sometimes when people are sending a message to Washington, D.C., they assume that they should sound like a lobbyist and get very technical in detail.

At my consulting firm, we try to get people to write like they normally speak. It’s not because we think they couldn’t talk about the technical details, but because it’s a more effective way to get their message across.

Telling your story helps elected officials understand how proposed legislation will play out in the real world with people like you.

It’s also one of the only ways we have of keeping a policy discussion from being mind-numbingly boring.

What if my story isn’t that interesting?

People often get stuck because they feel if they don’t have the perfect story to be a poster child for their issue then their letter won’t be effective.

That’s not true. By sharing their story, they show that the issue is important to them and by extension the people who live in their district.

You do not have to be personally affected in a particularly dramatic way for your story to be interesting to an elected official.