Re: Thank You Re: Interviewing SMEs

Subject: Re: Thank You Re: Interviewing SMEs
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 29 May 2001 11:26:46 -0700

Andrew Plato wrote:
> It very easy to fall into the "this is too complex for me to understand"
> mentality and trust everything an SME says. You have to develop some kind of
> judgment to decide the relevance and weight of the information an SME hands
> you.

A writer's situation on the job is similar to a high school graduate's
first weeks at university, or a graduate student's first weeks in a
doctoral program: it's easy for the writer to be overwhelmed by how much
knowledge everyone else has.

In this situation, it's important to remind yourself that you have
specialized areas of knowledge, too. If you let yourself get
overwhelmed, you are unlikely to develop a decent working relation with
the experts - by which I mean one of approximate equality.

Obviously, there's a lot more to the working relation than that, but
I've seen a lot of writers intimidate themselves into a subordinate
position. And, unsurprisingly, as your status around the office
diminishes, so does your chances of respect.

Bruce Byfield 604.421.7177 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com

"Ordinary people...are nothing without the ordinary truth, nothing at
all. They die without it: without innocence or candour. Indeed the very
great majority kill themselves long long before their time. Live as
children; grow pale as adolescents; show a flash of life in love; die in
their twenties and join the poor creatures that creep angry and restless
about the earth."
-Patrick O'Brian, "H.M.S. Surprise"


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