RE: Drafts -- some people not clear on the concept...

Subject: RE: Drafts -- some people not clear on the concept...
From: "Grant, Christopher" <CGrant -at- glhec -dot- org>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 10:07:09 -0500

Hi Steven,

I agree with you that nitpicking is annoying and often can be a waste of
time - both your time, and the nitpicker's. But I think the reality is that
this happens, and will continue to happen. So the question becomes, how do
you flow through these kinds of things rather than get obstructed by them?

> My sources of complaint are three-fold:
> 1. Jobs where a boss or editor grabs a draft off a desk, or off the
> network drive, before I've told them it's ready -- and then they go
> ballistic, when in fact they are looking at writing in such a
> rough stage that I was not ready to show it to anyone.

Hide your drafts or lock them in your desk. Name your drafts something
obscure and put them in unusual network locations. Zip your electronic
files with a password. If you don't want someone to potentially see your
works in progress, then protect them from that happening.

Alternatively, set things up such that "DRAFT" is featured prominently on
every page of a work in progress - be it printed copy or electronic file.
When people nitpick, politely listen to their complaints for a brief time,
and then explain that the word "draft" in your case means that you already
acknowledge some kinds of errors may yet exist. Educate your nitpickers.

> In short, I had taken their half-baked, disorganized
> thoughts about their business, and I provided a terrific FIRST DRAFT of
> document that would serve as an excellent foundation for laters drafts,
and for
> planning the running of the business itself.

As difficult as it is, it's also far easier to tolerate nitpickers if you're
not emotionally invested in the work. For most people it's impossible to
acheive a Zen-like state of detachment about their work, but if you avoid
thinking things like "half-baked" and avoid characterizing your own work as
"terrific" or "excellent", you may find nitpicking less insulting.

> Then one of the businessmen went ballistic because I has misspelled his
name, and also because a single
> technical number (an important number, but still one single number) in
> the document was mistaken -- both trivial errors, easily corrected with a
> word processor.

Understandably you see these as trivial errors, but think about the
perspective of your clients. Yes, even with a _DRAFT_ in their hands. From
their perspective: A. they probably aren't aware of the "draft" stage of
documentation if their business plan was so disorganized to begin with, so
the concept of a document in a less-than-finished state may be unfamiliar,
and B. you made two mistakes (albeit in a draft, as you said), one of which
plucks an emotional trigger (the last name being misspelled.)

> I have no patience for clients like this. Then again, these guys were
> much amateurs, and my main mistake was not seeing that in the first place,

> and so agreeing to work for them. So far their business has gone nowhere,

> and I suspect that that is where it willl remain.

That you have no patience for clients like this is unfortunate, because in
my experience at least, it's par for the the course. Don't get me wrong
here: I understand and can empathize with all of your complaints. But what
matters at the end of the day is that you're making your clients happy so
they they give you money. This means that you must find ways to work with,
around, over, through the roadblocks they throw your way. Stopping and
complaining about the roadblocks feels good, but won't help in the long run.

Finally, remember that you alone have the choice to take your talents
elsewhere. :) Good luck!

Chris Grant

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