Technical Communicators: Stop Thinking of These 13 Things

Hi technical communicators, help yourself by not thinking of these 13 things, when at work.

(a) I wish the manager assigns that module to B and not to me.

Why do you think that? Is it because that module is complex and may be challenging and can even invite conflicts during meetings? Or it may involve a different schedule such as late night meetings, or you do not want to work with that QA lead or SME?

Think again, and you will realize that this is actually an opportunity to iron out anything that can take you to the next level.

(b) I will start the document in 5 minutes.

The sooner you start working on whatever you have, the faster it gets done. Is that not the ultimate objective of everyone in the team? If there is some urgent message that you want to communicate in these 5 minutes, to your family or friend, via phone, IM, or email, now, you will not encounter this thought.

You think it only when you can afford to start the work immediately. So, go and start it.

(c) My company does not want to invest in another authoring tool. Well, I cannot help much, so let me continue following flawed processes, and producing sub-standard documents although I can certainly add more value!

Your company is doing business and it makes money too. If you help them understand how they can save and hence make more money, make a case.

Take out your notepad and prepare a quick analysis of what ails whatever you are doing, what you can do better, and how it can help your company. Use some analytics or seek your manager’s help. If the manager is reluctant, there are ample sources in the community that you can refer to, such as LinkedIn groups and blogs by thought leaders.

No company will dislike you if you offer them help to save, or to make money.

(d) I guess now my work reads as good as how her document reads.

Why you are competing with anyone else? If someone has been writing better than you and if your manager has asked you to write better, set a benchmark against your own work. You never need to compete with anyone in the team. You can appreciate others for doing better work without really competing with them.

(e) After today’s review meeting, he might be thinking negatively about me.

Review meetings have a specific purpose and they are over then and there. Your managers or peers do not have the time or interest to keep thinking of you, after the meeting. Focus on the gains of meeting. If that thought is still troubling you, just walk over or pick the phone and talk about it, when your schedule allows.

Two, if someone is thinking negative of you unreasonably, this is that individual’s problem. Forget that and concentrate on the task at hand.

(f) My friend B uses DITA environment (OxygenXML), and I am still using the old and traditional HAT for HTML topics. I need to change my job to work in DITA.

Do you really want to change your job because of your preference for a specific tool? Ok, are you giving your best in whatever tool you are using now? What if you cannot add ‘that much’ value in the new company, with that new tool? It can be because of the organization structure, the documentation process, the domain of the company, or because of your role in the new team.

Authoring tool is merely a tool for what you want to do. Let it remain merely a tool.

Think of the bigger picture of why you work, what you want to gain, and what value you can add to the business. You can certainly do that using whatever tools you have. If your current tools are a limitation to deliver ‘that value’, refer to (c) above.

(g) He is expecting an update now, let me go to the coffee machine and see if I can discuss it there.

Why to involve coffee and sugar, and leave a scope of an email that asks for an explanation? Most often, the other person is happy if you are prompt and direct, rather than seeking a coffee conversation opportunity. Take the monkey off your back, now!

(h) I will not go to that trekking tour; it was so bad last time I was there.

Corporate outings are more than mere a chance to have fun. These are an opportunity to spend some time together, learn about peers’ different personalities, how we all respond to ‘non-work’ situations, and how we get along when in water or on a rock.

There is no quality assurance, no deliverables, just the team in the family outfit. Be there.

(i) I want to work in that huge company, great office, an awesome cafe, bowling time and look at the benefits!

Well, nothing particularly wrong in thinking that way; we all look for opportunities where the office looks bigger, better, and beautiful. However, it does not mean that you will necessarily get as good a working opportunity as you may already be enjoying in a comparatively smaller organization.

There is more scope of wearing multiple hats in a smaller team. Many authors who work in large corporations are looking for opportunities in startups so that they have more control over the entire documentation process setup, the workflow, and to be a part of an emerging brand. Think twice before you plan a switch because of this single reason.

(j) I know wiki, I am doing it for years, and I am happy using it.

The industry is growing so fast, in tools, practices, and in processes. Keep your options open to add something new in your current process. Whether it is an opportunity to update the age-old style guide, or to add an extra productivity tool if that helps, or to volunteer to do UI texts review, or to be a part of community content moderation team.

You seeking more opportunities means giving the opportunities an option to pay back to you.

(k) I got a new corner workspace with fresh colors, proximity to coffee machine, and lot of light. I don’t care much though.

Try to enjoy small positive changes. It is your workspace where you spend your prime time; appreciate the positive things around you. If you miss out, nobody else can feel that happiness for you.

(l) I work and so I get paid, there is no room for emotions.

Your work is a reflection of your skills, hard work, and what you are capable of doing. This is a good enough reason that you should feel connected to your work.

Take it as an opportunity to brand yourself, and hence thank your employer for the opportunities.

If there are issues, discuss and sort it, or seek something else but emotions have their place in any relationship.

(m) Who Cares?

Well as technical communicators, why don’t you?