TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: sad tale - response From:Suzette Seveny <suzettes -at- STRATINFOTECH -dot- COM> Date:Mon, 27 Apr 1998 15:34:52 -0400
I think I would be very careful about using this type of approach. The
disgruntled employee might feel that you are empathizing with him, and
relay your comments back to management in an attempt to show another
supporting opinion. The result is that you could appear as a disgruntled
employee as well.
From: Miki Magyar [SMTP:MDM0857 -at- MCDATA -dot- COM]
Sent: April 27, 1998 3:19 PM
To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
Subject: sad tale - response
Matthew Bin told us of his trials with a disgruntled ex-employee SME and
his attempts to improve the user doc, "which, when it is written in
is full of speculations, excuses, and snarkiness."
Matthew, my heartfelt sympathies. You may have hit a brick wall, but
there's one thing you might try that's worked for me. First, you must
realize you will never change this bloke's view of the world, you, or his
work. So don't try. Instead, put yourself on his side - "It's a real pain,
but I've been ordered to do this, so we might as well get it over with.
Here's the stuff they told me to put in..." hand him a list of specific
questions or blanks to fill in, with your guess as to what it should be.
Grumble a lot about the unfairness of it all as you prod him to give you
data. Make it clear that *something* has to go in there, and it's either
going to be his input or your best guess. But don't criticize his work or
point out its flaws. Instead, indicate that you are confused (implication
is you're too dumb to understand). List the two or three possible
interpretations of his garble and ask which is correct.
This may not work, but it's worth a try. You may find that having a mutual
'foe' ('them') is enough to allow him to actually communicate with you.