Whether you're already involved in activist communities or have only recently started to look for ways to get involved in the government and politics, you've likely heard the advice to call your representatives in order to express your opinion on the issues that matter to you the most. Of course, if you suffer from anxiety or are just generally shy or introverted, calling someone feels like a nightmare. Luckily, there are a few tricks, tips, and strategies you can employ to make it easier to call your representatives and make your voice heard — in spite of your deeply rooted hatred of the phone.
First, though, it's worth noting that you don't have to do anything that might be damaging to your mental health. Seriously: If you truly feel that the phone is not right for you, that's OK! The same goes if you're unable to use a phone for any other reason. You can also email your representatives, donate time or money to causes you believe in, or lend a listening ear to those particularly impacted or worried about the current administration. While getting involved is important, it's ultimately up to you decide what is worth a challenge and what is not worth the risk of having some long-term damage to your mental health.
That said, if you are able to use the phone, it's often the most effective way to get in touch with the politicians who represent you at all levels of government. As Emily Ellsworth, who worked for Congress for six years, wrote in a series of tweets following the 2016 election, "The most effective thing is to actually call them on the phone. At their district (state) office. They have to talk to you there." Elaborated Ellsworth:
But, phone calls! That was a thing that shook up our office from time. One time, a radio host gave out our district office phone [number] on air. He was against our immigration policy and told our constituents to call. And they did. All. Day. Long. All I did all day was answer phones. If we started getting a pattern of calls, I called up our DC office and asked if they were getting the same calls and we talked. It was exhausting and you can bet my bosses heard about it. We had discussions because of that call to action.
So, for people who are considering calling their representatives but are anxious about the phone, these techniques are a great starting place. And remember: While more calls is ideal, even just one can make a difference.
1Practice In The Mirror
A big part of talking on the phone is the way your voice actually sounds. So if you're feeling nervous, it can help to practice while looking at yourself in the mirror and train yourself to speak slowly and clearly. This can help you feel more natural on the phone; even though the representative won't see your face, they'll hear the calmness in your voice.
2Have A Script Available
There is nothing wrong with writing down exactly what you want to say. If you aren't sure where to begin with writing your own script, this script about Donald Trump is a great resource to begin with.
3Call With Friends
Sometimes tasks which induce anxiety can feel much less stressful after we watch other people do them. You can suggest getting together with a few friends or your partner and have them make a few calls first. Listening to how exactly their conversions go might assuage some of your fears.
4Use Tools Like 5 Calls
The 5 Calls tool is an excellent resource that helps you figure out exactly who to call based on your location and provides sample scripts you can use while on the phone for specific issu. Their whole idea is that if you spend five minutes a day, you can make five calls, which is a reasonable goal to meet on a regular basis.
5Schedule Time To Call
When we're anxious, it can feel tempting to put the task off forever. Simply blocking the phone calls into your daily schedule can help normalize them and make them feel like just another task you're planning to do, right between doing the laundry and washing the dishes.
6Put Your Fears In Perspective
Often when we're worried about making a call, it's because we're worried about how the person on the other side will perceive us. Will we sound nervous? Will our voices crack? The fact of the matter is that these people are literally doing their jobs by listening to us.
It's also true that they are getting a ton of calls from people of all different ages, backgrounds, and familiarity with this type of call. Odds are, they simply won't have the time to analyze the pitch of your voice.
Practicing self-care is an important part of activism! Giving yourself a rewards system for making calls is a great way to motivate yourself to make a certain number of them per week. Heck, rewarding yourself for even just making the very first call is valid, too!