Technical Writing Communication Etiquette – (Part 1)

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    How not to communicate to others. The following are some pretty important rules about how Technical Writers should and should not communicate. Part 1 will be about how Technical Writers should not communicate and Part 2 will be about how they should communicate.

    Writers who cannot communicate in a professional manner will not get to connect well with others nor gather the information they need. For Technical Writers (TW) to function well within any organizations environment, they must be approachable and receptive. Here are a few tips on how not to communicate to others.

    • Do not be the 3 A’s (assertive, aggressive, annoying). Do not let others perceive you as being over confident. This is especially true if you have not double checked your resources and data before communicating information. A TW is always diplomatic and only states the facts. Prior to any encounters, a TW should always analyze and ensure that all information communicated is accurate and valid.
    • Do not answer a question before thinking. This rule in essence applies to all individuals, but for a Technical Writer, who is supposed to be objective and factual, any miss-quotes can be taken as that individual to not be reliable nor responsible.
    • Do not use just any words to communicate. Make it appropriate and useful., clear, and concise.
    • Do not jump to conclusions – as always, listen and then think about what will be said and/or written. In other words, do not react with emotion. A TW always thinks about why and what will be communicated to others.
    • Do not assume that communication problems are due to someone else’s errors. It is possible that the error came from your end and not someone else’s, e.g., inserting the wrong dates or information on a project plan or document. A Technical Writer should always be open to any criticism or evaluation.
    • Do not rely completely on your gut feelings when communicating decisions. Double check everything first and then rely on your gut feelings to make a decision. This way you will know that the decision will also be based on valid and reliable information.
    • Do not rely completely on past experiences when you are going to collaborate with others on a new project. Environments often change within the technical arena. Attend all meetings so that you are kept up-to-date on all changes and more importantly, on new knowledge that allows you to be able to interact with others more understandably. In other words, remain technically versed.
    • Do not be dishonest when communicating what you know. No one knows everything. Similarly with instructors, if an answer is not known, simply state that you will try to get the answer or information. Technical Writers have a sense of curiosity so research and find out the correct answer.
    • Do not lose focus in communication via writing or speaking. Create your outline and make it suitable for you. Next change it up so that it is suitable for your target audience. Technical Writers communicate clearly, concisely, and accurately.

    The above were just a few highlighted important ‘Do not’s’.

    Do you have any ‘Do not’s’ to add to this topic? If so, please leave a comment. Thank you.