How can I effectively write to my leaders?
Staying in touch with your authorities is important in each sphere of life, including the home, church, school, workplace, and community. When you make a formal appeal or address a public official, consider the following tips as you draft your letter:
- Be Friendly and Respectful
Letters from thoughtful friends have more influence than letters from rigid opponents. Your attitudes and words should reflect honor and respect for your authority’s position. Do not make threats or participate in name calling.
- Be Neat and Brief
When mailing a letter, type it out and use proper margins and a format that is easy to read. Be sure to include your return address in the letter itself and on the envelope. Write a short opening, two or three paragraphs on the subject, and a short closing. Never go over one page. When writing an e-mail, follow a similar style and format.
- Use the Proper Address
Make sure that you address your authority properly. If you’re unsure of what title to use, consult a current etiquette reference book.
- Avoid Form Letters
When you send a form letter or a letter copied from a sample, it communicates that you did not take the time to personally research and frame your argument. A personal letter will hold more influence in a leader’s eyes.
- Identify Yourself
When you introduce yourself, explain who you are and what motivated you to contact your leader. Describe your relationship to him or her in meaningful terms, such as employee, constituent, taxpayer, voter, or citizen. It may be helpful to mention your membership with civic groups, service organizations, or religious institutions if it relates to your topic or your relationship to the recipient.
If you are writing to a leader who serves in a district or state in which you do not currently live, be sure to mention the connections you do have within his or her jurisdiction, such as family, friends, or business interests.
- Give Praise
When you approve of your leader’s actions, speeches, decisions, or voting record, express your gratitude and encouragement to continue in that direction.
- Tackle One Subject
Limit the focus of your letter to one subject. This approach respects your authority’s time and helps you communicate more clearly.
- Know Your Subject
Do the research necessary to effectively present your concern. Find out the facts and clearly present them, citing your sources when appropriate. If you are writing to a politician about a specific bill, identify the legislation by bill number unless it has been widely publicized by a particular name. If a certain change would make the bill more acceptable to you, describe the change you would like to see and explain the reasons for your perspective.
- Be Specific
Mention specific arguments, not generalities. By being specific, you put pressure on your authority to be specific in his or her reply. Ask questions about how he plans to respond. Ask him to explain his viewpoint if he disagrees with you.
- Mention Your Sphere of Influence
The scope of your influence adds significance to your concern. If you plan to make a report to others in your workplace or organization, telling them about the outcome of your inquiry, mention those plans. Writing letters to the editor of your local paper is another way to increase the weight of your concern.
- Ask for a Reply
If you want a reply to a specific question, ask for it. It never hurts to try to get a commitment from your authority, but don’t be surprised if he or she avoids committing to an issue before it is necessary. The authority may truly be undecided and need time to think about it. If that is the case, make a follow-up contact and bring up additional points that support your position.
Pray for the one to whom you are writing. Ask God to protect your authority from any deception that would lead him or her to reject Godly principles. Pray that your leader will act in wisdom and discernment in all the areas of his or her life.
This material is adapted from page 24 of IBLP’s booklet titled Be Alert to Spiritual Danger, Alumni Supplement Volume 6.