Friday, November 02, 2007

Use the Writing Process to Open Your Mind—and Theirs

In The Closed Mind (1962), Sanford I. Berman writes:

One of the biggest problems in executive development or teaching people on the job is to get them to admit that they do not understand some of the procedures or operations. If they are a graduate engineer or business school graduate, they seem to feel that it is a serious reflection on their expensive education if they cannot immediately apply “the book” to some specific problem. The most serious blunders, we have found, are made by those who refuse to confess their limitations to themselves.

Forty-five years later, does the quote ring true? Too often, we approach writing situations assuming that we have the answer and that our readers do not, or we send messages under the assumption that our readers know more than they do.

For these reasons, we should use the whole writing process—plan, draft, quality control—to reflect clearly on our audience. Employing the writing process at work is the main focus of my book The Art of On-the-Job Writing.

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