Constituents contact their government officials for many reasons. When constituents feel they have been treated unfairly they look to you for understanding and to address their concerns. Other times a constituent just wants to meet you, especially if you are the constituent’s elected official. In these situations constituents usually know what they want and the communication is generally uncomplicated.
On some occasions, however, constituents may be distressed and can create difficulties for you or your staff. How you respond to an individual constituent who is distressed - whether mildly or more intensely upset - can make the difference between a communication in which a distressed constituent walks away feeling angry, bruised or hurt and one in which the constituent feels understood, heard and helped.
In an effort to assist our state and local law makers with these challenges, The New York State Psychological Association (NYSPA) offers this guide and a training for psychologist to assist their legislative representatives and their staff to communicate effectively with distressed constituents.
We have also developed a training sessions for psychologists to be coached in the presentation, booklets and palm cards to be left with the staff and a coaching module for the trainers to use. The items can be accessed at the links below:
Dealing with Distressed Constituent Guide (pdf)
Coaching Module (pdf)
Coaching Module (recorded webinar)