Lobby Do’s & Don’ts

DO:

Do learn legislators’ committee assignments and where their specialties lie.

Do present the need for what you’re asking the legislator to do. Use data or cases you know.

Do relate situations in his or her home state or district.

Do learn the legislators’ position and ask why they take that position.

Do—in case of voting records—ask why he or she voted a particular way.

Do show openness to the knowledge of counterarguments and respond to them.

Do admit you don’t know. Offer to try to find out the answer and send information back to the office.

Do spend time with legislators whose position is opposite ours. You can decrease the intensity of the opposition and perhaps change it.

Do spend time in developing relationships with the legislative staff.

Do thank the staff for stands the member has taken, which you support.

 

DON’T:

Don’t overload a legislative visit with too many issues.

Don’t confront, threaten, pressure, or beg.

Don’t be argumentative. Speak with calmness and commitment so as not to put the legislator on the defensive.

Don’t overstate the case. Members are very busy and you are apt to lose their attention if you are too wordy.

Don’t expect members of Congress to be specialists. Their schedules and workloads tend to make them generalists.

Don’t be put off by smokescreens or long-winded answers. Bring the legislator back to the point. Maintain control of the meetings.

Don’t make promises you can’t deliver.

Don’t be afraid to take a stand on the issues.

Don’t shy away from meetings with legislators with known views opposite your own.

Don’t be offended if a legislator is unable to meet and requests that you meet with his or her staff.