There is a common tendency to unconsciously assume that government is a disembodied bureaucratic machine. If we hope to effectively influence our elected officials, however, we must recognize the fact that “government is human.” That is to say, government is made up of human beings—real people who have actual feelings, families, and experiences—all of which shape their decision-making and influence their responses to how they are treated.
We need not look far to see the lack of civility that permeates our social interactions with one another, and this is especially true in the political space. In a free society, we certainly have considerable latitude to criticize (and even publicly shame) our political leaders. But such an approach can often sabotage our ability to influence those who are making decisions on our behalf.
How might the relational dynamic between us and our elected officials improve if we took a more thoughtful, collaborative approach in our advocacy efforts? What might happen if we employed “Golden Rule” diplomacy, choosing to treat our political leaders the way we would want to be treated if we were in their place?
There is a certain psychology of influence summarized in the Dale Carnegie strategy of how to win friends and influence people. That same psychology of influence applies to how we interact with our political leaders.
So, the next time you find yourself frustrated by political decisions that seem beyond your control, remember that you have the ability to be your own best advocate on issues that matter to you. Thoughtful engagement with elected officials can go a long way toward affecting the changes you seek.