In the misty dawn, a turkey hunter patiently clucks on a box call, calling in her quarry. The call lets her target know that all is well, nobody but turkeys here, so the neighborhood birds start to come in. We can learn a lot from her. In a time where calling folks out and cancel culture are buzzwords, our first impulse is often to open fire on those we disagree with every time we get our dander up. There are times when it is important to speak truths, even uncomfortable truths, clearly and publicly. In addition, and often instead, you might have a better chance of making your shot, and your point, if you call in decision-makers.
What do we mean by calling in? It is an idea put forward by professor Lorretta Ross to deal with larger societal issues, but it makes sense for those of us who value hunting, fishing, and healthy habitats as well. It means letting decision-makers know that you and they are not so different. It means calling them into your shared values and experiences so that you can go forward from a point of agreement. This is extremely important in public comment and testimonies for conservation.
Laying the Groundwork
It is nearly impossible to live in Wyoming’s vast and diverse wild landscapes and remain unmoved. Our neighbors are diverse, oil field workers and agency biologists, ranchers and business owners, outfitters and office workers, but we all share connections. When we start from this shared understanding, everyone can calm down a bit. So, share your story, share your why(or your WY). Tell that story to those you are trying to influence or educate in a way that makes them feel the way that you feel.
Once you start from a common point, calling in means laying down your ideas in terms that decision-makers will pick up. This means understanding their perspectives and values so that you can put ideas in terms that matter to them. Human brains want to take the easy way out, so just telling them an idea that they have already put in the “nope” category makes “nope” the path of least resistance. Tell them about your idea from a new perspective, hopefully, one that they share, and make them really think about it.
Calling in decision-makers, just like calling in turkeys, takes time, patience, skill, and effort. It is unquestionably more work. If we are willing to put in that work, however, we might get a clearer shot at making a point or changing a mind.