Arguments not to use

Subject: Arguments not to use
From: John Gear <catalyst -at- PACIFIER -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 31 May 1995 10:27:00 PDT

Someone suggests using this argument to explain the value of technical

>The point is that logic rarely, if ever persuades anyone, and never
>persuades one who is already biased. What is required to do the job, if it
>can, indeed be done at all, is an emotional appeal. In this case, I suggest
>explaining to that engineer that the true value of a technical writer is the
>sparing of that engineer's valuable time so that he can devote it to the far
>more demanding and more important task of engineering. That is a persuasive

Of course, this runs the risk that the engineer with whom you are talking
doesn't enjoy syncophancy and won't respect people who rely on it. Further,
the argument suggested (that technical communication is less demanding and
important than engineering) is weak and *un*persuasive for two reasons:

First, it's not correct.

Second, you might "win" the point. Then you will either have to work there
(having fouled your nest) or you will have to go find work someplace where
technical communication *is* considered demanding and important.

Obviously flattery has its place in a salesperson's toolbag. Especially the
travelling salesperson who expects never to have to deal with the mark
again. But it's an approach that doesn't help create authentic,
interdependent relationships between coworkers.

I suspect that far too many technical writers have opted to use the
suggested snowjob argument in the past, which explains why the question of
"How can we get some respect?" is an evergreen topic on this list. As Peter
Block says, "If you get a job by bending over the client assumes that's the
way you like to work."
John Gear (catalyst -at- pacifier -dot- com)

The Bill of Rights--The Original Contract with America
Accept no substitutes. Beware of imitations. Insist on the genuine articles.

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