Hill Visits Do’s and Don’ts
- Do learn Members’ committee assignments and where their specialties lie.
- Do present the need for what you’re asking the Member of Congress to do. Use data or cases you know.
- Do relate situations in his/her home state or district.
- Do ask the Representative’s or Senator’s position and why.
- Do—in case of voting records—ask why he/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 Members whose position is against yours. You can lessen the intensity of the opposition and perhaps change it.
- Do spend time in developing relationships with Congressional staff.
- Do thank them for stands the Member has taken which you support.
- Don’t overload a Congressional 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 him/her on the defensive.
- Don’t overstate the case. Members are very busy and you’re 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 Members 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/her staff.
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