Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Triage for business documents

Reading this section of our textbook (pp. 20–21), I was reminded of Samantha's and Tisha's analyses of the business letter distributed by the bathtub company. They saw all the letter's faults and problems, but they didn't give up on it, panic, or get out the editorial buzz saw. They determined the author's intention and tried to get the meaning of his letter to match it.

Think of yourself as a Red Cross worker who is taken to the scene of a natural disaster—the author's writing—and plunked down in the midst of disorganization and good but failed intentions. You have to rely on your instincts, what your supervisor tells you, and your training. An emotional reaction to such a situation is natural, so after you read the document and react to it, put it aside. Take it out later and reread it. The second time, you'll be able to evaluate it more objectively. Do this one or twice more, and you'll be able to separate your personal reaction from your professional goal: helping the author communicate with the reader.

You are really in the service of the English language and the printed word—not that of a poor writer. If you do your work well, both you and the writer will realize this and benefit from the experience.


Chad said...

Good advice, Pat. These suggestions of yours are ones that perhaps I should have considered more while I was tackling this exercise.

Cindy said...

Thanks for the pep talk Pat! I really appreciated your words of wisdom.