If you have phone phobia, you’re not alone. (I’m a recovering member of the club myself.) If the situation in this country is making you anxious, calling your local MP is both a step toward a solution, and a way to give yourself a small amount of control over something. But you have to be able to actually make the call.
Photo by Mark Fischer.
Calling isn’t the only way to be heard, but it’s one of the most effective. How do you get up the nerve to call? Cordelia Dillon at Echo Through the Fog has a friendly cartoon guide to talk you through the process. First, you block off some time on your schedule, and keep that appointment with yourself. Then you write yourself a script. The guide suggests some words to use. My own calls tend to follow this format:
Hi, I’m [name], a constituent from [place]. I’m calling to ask [Member’s name] to vote [Yes/No] on [bill] because [reason].
The reason can include a personal story, or just your opinion on the most important thing about the bill. You can even skip that part if you’re not feeling up to it. If there’s no vote coming up, replace that part with “to speak out against [bad thing]” or to co-sponsor a certain bill, or whatever you want them to do. If the member of parliament you’re calling has recently done a good thing, feel free to use this:
Hi, I’m [name], a constituent from [place]. I want to thank [Member’s name] for standing up for us by [thing they did].
You get the idea. I’ve never had to say anything more than my prepared speech, except to answer a question or two like:
- What is your postcode?
- Would you like to leave your full address so we can send you a response?
Say goodbye, and you’re done. I also like to thank the staffer for their time, especially on days I know they’re getting a lot of heat.
Is this sounding a little more doable? Dillon reminds us that it’s OK if you sound nervous. Your job isn’t to put on a perfect performance for the staffer, it’s to get your message through. As she says: “They get a lot of calls, so they don’t have time to judge you for how well you delivered your message.”