Monday, October 15, 2012

The Power of Your Words: Phonebanking

We aren't all lucky enough to find a public platform to share our personal experiences with large audiences.... however...

This week has been eye opening for me.

I've been blessed several times this past month to talk a bit about my health care journey in conjunction with the Seattle Women's Chorus during some of their performances. Due to this exposure, I've been freely given the immediate feedback of kind faces, and gentle hands placed on my arm as soft words thanked me for my courage to speak up.

I like face to face interactions. I like the power they have. I like the energy in the room.

Then last night a friend told me a story about phonebanking.

I will 100% admit I'm uncomfortable with phonebanking. Despite the good I've been told it does, I've always looked at it similarly to telemarketing---which actually caused me to disconnect my house phone awhile back.

I'm bugged when I get political phone calls on my cell phone where someone asks me if I have time to talk and then asks me one question. When I answer the question in a way they weren't hoping for, they don't continue the dialogue they simply say thank you and hang up. What is the point of that?

A little background before I begin the story:

My friend now lives in a wonderfully diverse urban setting. Her entire family, however, lives in small town rural America. From the stories she's told me, many of that family just simply hasn't been exposed to as much of the diversity that my friend has, and this has caused frustration, confusion, and even all out angry fights.

There is nothing wrong with these people. There is nothing evil about these people. There is nothing hateful about these people. It is simply a matter of exposure. When you never meet an actual person that falls into a category others tend to criticize, how would you know anything other than the critical words?

As my friend was at work on Friday she received a phone call from her mother saying she had made a decision to support a local referendum. A referendum my friend was certain would not be supported by anyone in her family. This, quite frankly, FLOORED my friend.

She immediately called her mother to find out what had changed.

Turns out, another small town community member was a part of phone bank that day and happened to be the one who called my friend's mom. He was polite and genuine and simply had a heartfelt discussion with this woman.

After the call ended, my friend's mom changed her mind on the referendum... because she took the time to really think about her vote. She realized how much power her vote had in the lives of "others" she's never even met.

While I am glad to be able to share my story with the crowds of people I've spoken to, I've really had more of a "preaching to the choir" effect. The people in the audiences do have reach to others, but mostly those listening already understand my point of view.

This one phone banking person, on the other hand,  was able to reach the unreachable.....

now that's saying something.

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