Re: A NEW TOPIC (you can read this)

Subject: Re: A NEW TOPIC (you can read this)
From: Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1993 14:44:59 -0500

> I have been in the technical writing field about a year now. I would like
> to ask some other writers out in the *real world* about the cultural
> that you have experienced.


> Some quick background: The documents supporting the previous product wer
> horrendous at best. Solution: get technical writers. So, as of a little over
> a year ago, the tech writing team was formed. The point is that nobody
> has gotten used to having a technical writing team.
> Any ideas of what we can do to a) bridge a cultural, gender, and
> generational gap and b) get people used to us?
> Please respond only with helpful suggestions. I do not want this to get ugly.
> Kate Jarsulic
> Technical Writer

Everyone's style is different, but if you want the people you work with
to get used to you, you should be in all of the places where they can
come in contact with you on a regular basis. This may take some
assertiveness, but that means insinuating yourself into regular staff
meetings, getting on mailing lists, showing up at presentations and
demos, etc.

The key here is when you show up in these venues, take every opportunity
you can to make meaningful contributions within your area of expertise.
And if a conflict or disagreement arises, and you are on solid ground,
unabashedly stand by your position. This implies you have a thorough and
ready knowledge of everything for which you are responsible. It also
implies you respect your non-writer co-workers enough to learn their
lingo. Ask questions as much as possible, but be sure to *remember the

As a point of pride, you should always work within the system. You need
to know the system where you are, and use it to your advantage. Be
prepared for a shock if you haven't researched the way things get done
at your company. Decision making in most places is like making sausage;
the end product looks great, but the stuff that goes on behind the
scenes is often not very pretty. Welcome to the market economy.

Regarding the cultural and gender differences, these have less of chance
to thrive the more familiar and trusted you become among your
co-workers. There isn't any *easy* way to gain acceptance; you have to
respect everyone, *including yourself*, and *contribute meaningfully* to
the success of your enterprise. In short, you have to earn it. Be
assertive, competent, and persistent. The rest should follow.

I don't think anyone wants this to get ugly. From your perspective, this
may be about gender and culture differences. At its heart, this is just
another communication problem. And you are an expert there, right? It
sounds like where you work, you're the closest thing to a communication
expert that they have. Approach every challenge with that in mind.

Good luck.

|Len Olszewski, Technical Writer |"Thou gettest no bread with one |
|saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com|Cary, NC, USA| meatball." - Robert Sheckley |
| Opinions this ludicrous are mine. Reasonable opinions will cost you.|

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