For many of us, complaining comes easy. Maybe too easy. When we feel we’ve been wronged we’re more motivated to take action, compared to instances where our expectations were met.
Sometimes I imaging that doing intake for constituent letters to representatives is something like Yelp, where half the participants are the ones who are there for catharsis or seem to have had unrealistic expectations in the first place.
At a lobbying event I attended last year I heard an aide for Congresswoman Barbara Lee speak on this topic. Lee’s legislative assistant M. A Keifer said messages from constituents who support the Congresswoman’s work are important to gauge passion on the issues. When you like what your rep is doing, you don’t want the critics to be the only voices they hear. Provide a more balanced experience for your officials by saying Thanks when they actually represent you.
It takes practice to express gratitude in other spaces, but the same benefits apply here. Take 5 minutes to Thank a rep–and read this article on writing your representatives if you’re looking to maximize your impact.