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I agree whole-heartedly with you on dealing with engineers, although I
would like to add this:
I have found through experience that a large porportion of engineers
have difficulty in taking technical writers and technical writing seriously
at first. Whether this is as a result of the abbreviated and somewhat
incomplete technical writing courses that are a part of their curriculum or
whether they just don't believe that the average technical writer has the
experience or the education to understand what they do.
However, I have also found that being thoughtful in my approach to an
engineer, by taking the time to ask intelligent questions and by taking
their answers seriously helps to alleviate their uncertainties about me.
They are naturally hesitant to grant that someone who is not an engineer
will understand something that isn't finished and that the engineer doesn't
properly understand yet, either. Generally I find that after only a few
weeks of dealing with an engineer this way results in the engineer placing
faith in my skills to understand what he/she is doing, why he/she is doing
it and just what he/she is doing will do. If we take care to make sure that
we understand what the engineer has designed to by asking thoughtful,
intelligent and relevant questions, they begin to place a little faith in
our abilities, and that makes our job that much more difficult.
The worst thing we can do in give the engineer the impression that we
don't know what we're doing and that we're not willing to learn.
paul -dot- cheverie -at- canada -dot- cdev -dot- com