We live in a time when communicating with the people who run our government is frequently necessary.
New legislation and regulations with the power to seriously affect our lives are proposed almost daily.
Letting lawmakers know where we stand on these issues is vital to ensure that the government does not
break free of its tethers to the people and continues to represent our interests.
The trucking industry is currently facing several issues that cry out for our response to them. If we
donít let them know how we feel now, we could end up stuck with many new and unfavorable changes in our
circumstances. We, after all, are the only people who can tell them how their laws and rules will affect us.
Making your voice heard in Washington, your state capital, or even your local municipal building isnít all
that difficult, but care should be taken to ensure that your point is clearly made. Many people are
eloquent speakers, but run into difficulty when it comes to putting thoughts on paper. What would otherwise
be a good letter filled with valid points could end up completely missing the mark, being misread, or even
wind up losing all of its meaning and credibility because of a few technical errors.
That said, it doesnít take an English major to prepare an effective response to an issue. Following a few
simple rules of thumb will help you make sure that your voice is heard clearly:
- Use the spell checker:
- Although spelling isnít vital to making a good point, the fewer words you misspell, the more intelligent you sound.
Clearly broadcasting your intelligence will help your statement come through as well thought out and intelligent, too.
- Use good grammar:
- Donít worry about ending a sentence with a preposition or making a run-on sentence. Do make sure, however,
that each thought you present is completed, and that it will make sense to the reader.
- Use drafts:
- You donít have to spend weeks on your comments, but do re-write it at least one time. The first draft can
give you an opportunity to put all of your thoughts on paper, and the second will be the polished version.
I like to write a rough draft, polish and reorganize it for clarity, and then let a friend or family member
read it before doing a final draft.
- Make a point:
- Simply writing ďI am against puppy abuse.Ē and signing it, doesnít give the lawmaker a clear impression as
to why you are against it. Instead, make sure to add at least one or two reasons why you feel the way you do.
A sentence like ďI am against puppy abuse because puppies are sweet, innocent little creatures, and hurting
them is wrongĒ will help the lawmaker understand your position.
- Avoid industry jargon:
- Itís important to think about the reader. If youíre writing to the FMCSA, for example, they probably know whatís
what when you use terms like HOS or EOBR. Another representative may not, so donít tell them you pull a covered
wagon or an RGN, and are concerned about the effect new HOS legislation might have on your operation. Explain what you do instead.
- Watch your tone:
- Using an argumentative tone turns the reader off to what you have to say. Although you may be writing an ďargumentĒ
piece, donít take the argument idea seriously. Instead, try to write with persuasion, using points that will hopefully
convince the reader that your argument is correct. Never use expletives or threats to try to prove a point.
One way to help ensure that you have done all of these things is to read your paper out loud to some one else, or at
least, to let them read it. Itís hard to catch your own errors. If there are any areas that may seem unclear, and objective
listener (as in someone other than the author) will be able to catch them, and give you an opportunity to clarify your point.
Itís all about being heard. Youíre using valuable time to write to a representative, spend just a few more minutes on making
sure that they will be able to understand what youíre saying.