Relational Organizing is simple. Like deceptively so. Sure, it’s a big phrase with lots of syllables. But all it really means is friends talking to friends, family talking to family and neighbors talking to neighbors about the issues that matter to them.
So what's the difference between a call and a Relational Organizing call? NOTHING!
The goal of Relational Organizing isn’t to change the conversations you are having with your friends, family members and neighbors… it’s to add to them.
Put simply: don’t be weird about it. Sure, you might be tracking your relationships on the backend in a new way, but at the end of the day, it’s still just your cousin or your childhood friend you’re talking to. The difference here is that while you’re still talking to them about football, Game of Thrones and your favorite items on the McDonald’s dollar menu, you’re also talking to them about climate change, gun violence, minimum wage or whatever other issues might matter to them.
In fact, not only should you keep talking about the normal stuff, you pretty much have to! Start off with your typical catch up. How are the kids? How’s work? Why is [our sports team] so freaking terrible?! &%$@
Then ease your way into the progressive issues that you know are likely to resonate with them. It might be healthcare, the opioid crisis, education spending… we don’t know. But you do! Which is actually the whole point of Relational Organizing.
No matter how skilled an organizer, they will never know what’s important to the people in your life. You are literally the expert and frankly, the only one qualified for this important job. Want that person to join you in voting on election day? Find the angle that will motivate them to do so.
And don’t forget, to be a good Relational Organizer, you can’t just listen… you actually have to hear what they are saying. Which is why it’s so important to practice “Empathy Listening.”
What Is Empathy Listening?
Empathy Listening is simply paying attention to another person with empathy. Don’t just hear them, work to understand where they are coming from on the issues.
Another way to think about Empathy Listening: work to understand before being understood.
Here are some tips for being a good Empathetic Listener:
1. Ask open-ended questions — don’t be afraid to dig
Examples: Why do you feel that way? Could you explain that point? Can you elaborate on that?
2. Seek clarity
Examples: Tell me more. Is this what you said? Did I hear you say…? Did I understand you when you said…?
3. Summarizes and reflect — repeat back what you heard to ensure you understood
Examples: Just to summarize… is this what you said? Let me make sure I understood.
4. Acknowledge their feelings, insights, and opinions
Examples: I know how you feel. I hear that a lot. I was just talking to someone about that very same thing.
Wrapping Up Your Conversation
Before ending the conversation, do all the normal things you would do when talking to a friend, family member or neighbor. (Noticing a pattern here?!)
But along with sending your best to their family, telling them you’ll see them at church next Sunday or inviting them over to watch your team get obliterated… again… also let them know that you’d love to follow up on this conversation and ask them if it would be okay if you reach out at some point the following week to touch base on the issues that matter to them.
If this all seems too simple to be effective — you’re in luck. It IS simple. But it is ALSO effective. We’ve got the studies to prove it.
If everyone one of us can engage a few members of our community and convince those people to vote, we could readily change our community on the local, regional and national level. Winning any campaign, from the smallest local race to a Presidential behemoth, starts with a phone call between friends and it builds from there.
Ready to start building? Join our mailing list to find out about our free Relational Organizing webinars, connect with us on Facebook and/or Twitter to keep the conversation going and download our free Relational Organizing app at getempower.com.