Re: Hiring Publications Managers

Subject: Re: Hiring Publications Managers
From: CHRISTINE ANAMEIER <CANAMEIE -at- email -dot- usps -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 10:42:31 -0500


Dick wrote:
> Some people believe it is rude to say what you mean when there
> is an alternative of being indirect, and those people took
> offense.

I'm not sure I'd read this situation quite that way. There are some
people on the list who speak their minds bluntly without euphemisms or
mitigating emoticons--Andrew Plato comes to mind--yet their posts don't
offend me. (Dick, FWIW, your posts have never offended me.) This thread,
on the other hand, was pushing my buttons. Why?

There are subtle tone issues here, and we all seem to react with varying
degrees of sensitivity. Some folks honestly can't see what all the fuss
is about, while others are emitting steam from their ears. I would be
hard pressed to pluck a single comment out of this thread that shows
exactly what bothered me (although the "rewards" thing that I commented
on previously was close), but there's a cumulative effect.

It's made me stop and think. Our attitudes and assumptions color our
writing in ways that may be hard to pinpoint, and that we may not even
see, but that nevertheless have an impact on our readers. I once wrote
what I *thought* was a polite, restrained note to a professor disputing
a grade on a paper. Luckily I ran it past my advisor, who sat me down,
went through the note sentence by sentence, and got me to see that where
I thought I was sounding neutral and civil, I was actually whacking the
guy over the head repeatedly and casting aspersions on his competence.
The surface meaning was "please reconsider," but the undercurrents said
"you idiot!" There wasn't one single phrase you could point to and say
"there it is, there's the hostility." It was the combined effect of a
dozen barely perceptible jabs. (I should add that decorating the note
with smilies wouldn't have made a bit of difference. Let's not all start
peppering our diatribes with emoticons; that's not the answer.)

It's all too easy to do the same thing on the list, and I suspect I
sometimes have done so. This thread is reminding me to watch my tone and
be cautious when I *think* I'm sounding civil.

Christine
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