…or at least will make phone calls to do it!
One of the biggest leaps on the ladder of electoral engagement is from a safe, passive activity like letter-writing or postcarding (heck, even texting) to one that involves actual voter contact. The people least likely to take that leap are introverts. And I am here to say that introverts, when trained properly, make the BEST voter-contacters I’ve ever seen.
Introverts are people who choose to recharge and collect themselves in the quiet and safety of their own homes. Extroverts, they love a crowd and get energized from connecting with that crowd. An introvert may very well be a great public speaker but I guarantee that after that huge rally they just led they will run home, put the megaphone down, and read a book. Or sit quietly with the cat. They will not head out with fellow rally-ers afterward and continue the conversation in a booming restaurant with 20 other people.
And this understanding that introverts consider home a safe space is key to why thy are hesitant to make cold calls to voters, or knock on their doors. There is nothing more horrifying to an introvert than invading someone else’s home space. They’d rather stick a needle in their eye!
But the amazing thing about introverts is that they are the most courageous, loyal, and passionate campaigners you will ever meet. Imagine how much gumption it takes for an introvert to face their fears and say “you know what, this country needs me, so I will suck it up and do this.” Canvassing, calling voters – this is not natural for them. So when they do it, if they are brought to it the right way. Their work becomes a cause, not just an activity.
Wow, do we need those folks out there now!
Seeing all of this from my vantage point as a Sister District Captain, I decided to design a voter contact training for introverts, by an introvert (that’s me). The point of the workshop is that it’s not important that we make a bunch of phone calls, rather, that we feel great making phone calls. So when I announce off the top that I don’t care if they make one call, you can feel the collective exhale from the group.
Now that I actually have their attention, I give them an overview of the workshop. This is my first insight for you: introverts need information, and they need as much as possible, and they need time to process it. Quietly.
I presented the overview like this:
First, we’ll introduce ourselves and say what our “superpower” is (more on this later). Then we’ll learn why it’s important to make these calls, for this candidate, now. Then, we will learn more about the candidate. Then we’ll get ourselves set up technologically, so that when we get to the part where we’re role playing, we’re using the names of the actual people we’ll be calling.
Pause, wait a bit, during each phase of the workshop. Check in with your introverts. And most importantly, laugh a lot.
The laughing most definitely happens while we’re role-playing. Once we have a script, both in-hand and on screen, we start to role play. The group can identify who wants to do what. Make sure they get to practice with a “Republican” so they learn to say nice things and move on. Make sure they play the role of someone who is NOT the person they’re calling but COULD be a supporter. Make sure you laugh throughout this process. Spend the most time on the role-playing exercise. Once the group feels like every possible challenging conversation has been thoroughly lived through (remind them that they have just survived!) then there is a moment when they, collectively, want to make an Actual Phone Call To A Human Being.
Allowing a long runway between the start of the workshop and the first call is important. My second insight is that when your introverts are ready to go, let them. They are “superheroes” with superhero powers, so let them fly! Sometimes the group wanted to make calls in the same space together, sometimes individual introverts chose to find a quiet spot in my living room.
Wherever your phonebank is hosted, make sure there are adequate “hiding spaces” for your introverts. Some might want moral support from others, but making these calls together can also feel like going to the bathroom with the door open. (I have literally had an introvert make her calls from my bathroom, for privacy). Whatever they need, don’t judge. They know what they need – it’s your job to help make that happen.
Your introverts will make maybe three or four phone calls. Then, cut them off. You want them to leave wanting more. Be ready with information for another phonebank you can direct them to. Check in with them after they’re done making their calls. Offer to join them at a “real” phonebank. Once they are up and running, they will be, I guarantee, your best voter-contacters ever. They have superpowers, they are courageous and dedicated. It is so important that we give them the space and encouragement they need to fly from that long runway into the airspace of actions we know can change the outcome of the election, the actions we know can change the world.
If you’re interested in hosting a Phonebank for Introverts, I created a sample Phonebank for Introverts agenda to help get you started!
Want more help with phonebanking? Check out some of our past posts: