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[SEAOC] RE: Thread on communication

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Per previous discussion on the subject of communication: 
 
>I generally look for content... If you picture the person saying it with 
their voice, >the meaning is the same... I spell words the way I pronounce 
them and then run them >through the spell checker...I can design buildings to 
resist earthquakes and wind >storms, ask me to spell correctly and I'll fall 
flat on my face. 
>Though I recognize the need for correct spelling for certain situations, it's 
mostly >attorneys, insurance agents, and school teachers who are concerned 
with dotting i's >and crossing t's, few of which I have much regard for. 
 
IMHO it is this type of attitude that causes others to look down on engineers. 
 When engineers act as if spelling and grammar are unimportant, it implies 
that "numbers" are more important than words, i.e. communication with other 
people.  If your responsibilities relate primarily to number crunching and 
verbal communication, then correct spelling and grammar are not so important.  
But if you write specifications, reports, and client correspondence, then 
these items are very important.  While everyone makes occasional mistakes, if 
a client sees too many language errors it may be concluded that the writer is 
less skilled, and favor will be given to others with better presentation 
skills (even if the writer may have adequate technical qualifications) - are 
you willing to lose work because of this?  Poor spelling implies laziness.  
And errors in technical documents can change the intent or leave the meaning 
up to interpretation - and potential litigation. 
 
Good communication includes anything which enhances clear understanding - poor 
spelling or grammar confuse the reader's understanding and thus they represent 
poor communication.  You may not like attorneys, but they generally only get 
involved once there is a misunderstanding due to communication problems - it's 
not their fault that a report or specification is not clearly written.  (And 
teachers are only trying to help students learn to communicate properly.)  We 
should accept responsibility for our own errors and not blame other 
professions. 
 
Overall, a well written document shows the reader that you have their 
interests in mind - not just your own interests.   
  
 
 


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