How to Keep Your Boss off Bad Policy: An Empathetic Approach

You know the feeling all too well. Every year, every month, every week – different constituents with different priorities will tell you why their concerns demand action now. They’ll tell you why their one priority ask is the most important ask your boss will get; sometimes they’ll tell you people will die if you don’t get your boss to cosponsor this one bill. They aren’t always wrong, and their causes almost always involve circumstances that are sympathetic. It’s one thing that makes navigating health policy so tricky.

But how do you balance the need for sustainable policy that benefits Americans in the long run with the potentially righteous, but often narrower, causes of specific constituents or interest groups? How do you respond to someone in the throes of real crisis and real pain beyond a simple no? How do you ensure that policies promoted as solutions don’t have unintended consequences that undermine good health policy?

Doing so effectively doesn’t necessarily require esoteric knowledge of health policy law. Instead, three basic skills can help you keep your boss off misguided policy: empathy, process, and creativity.

About the Authors

Drew Keyes is the Senior Policy Analyst at the Paragon Health Institute. Prior to working at Paragon, Drew served as a Congressional staffer for a decade, most recently for the House Republican Study Committee.

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