Senate offices receive hundreds and sometimes thousands of calls a day. Constituents are able to call their Senators to voice concerns, ask questions, or to let their representative know their position on an issue. In my office, every single call and every single voicemail is listened to so that the Senator can know what her constituents are calling about. Depending on the day and what issues are being voted on or on current events, we get a range of calls from constituents. While some constituents are concise and courteous, others are not. One of the most challenging things for me during this internship was learning how to handle difficult phone calls with constituents who were upset and rude. All constituent opinions and concerns are important and valid, but it can be incredibly draining answering calls all day long and getting consistently berated by strangers over the phone. Keeping yourself engaged and attentive can sometimes be difficult and it’s easy to feel worn down after some of these interactions. Learning how to politely listen and converse with constituents who are sometimes hostile took some adjusting until I figured out what worked for me. Initially I would just let constituents yell but I’ve found that if you make it clear from the beginning of the call that you are actually listening to them then they are much more likely to speak in a conversational manner rather than yell at you. I make sure to almost be overly nice when speaking with angry constituents because it is much harder to be rude to someone when they are being nice to you. For the most part, I’m able to have a positive interaction with constituents even if they strongly disagree with the Senator and are calling with complaints. If constituents feel respected and heard then I consider that a success. Of course, most constituents aren’t rude or hostile, most call because they genuinely care about a certain issue and want the Senator to hear their voice. It’s actually been an incredible experience hearing directly from people, I was surprised by how many people feel passionately enough to get engaged and to call.
- Blog #6: Overcoming Obstacles/Mistakes
- Blog #6: Onward