Empathy: The crucial value for a technical writer, empathy let’s us see through others’ eyes.
Direct communication: This generally falls under “Honesty”, but is more specific. I never want to be a jerk, but I want to hear it how it is, and I want to tell you the truth as best I can.
This bears saying, because sometimes people will attach their ego to their work. Editing is a core part of technical writing, and a good editor is somewhere between a surgeon and a butcher with words.
All the work I do is in the interest of making the best explanations I can for the readers.
I don’t take praise well. If I did a good job, I’m happy about it. It’s its own reward and all that. Please don’t make a big deal about it.
Now constructive criticism, that I can handle. See Values above. I am not my words, my ego isn’t tied to it. My ego is tied to helping make the best documentation we can make.i
This applies to personal feedback as well. I want to be a good coworker to you, but I recognize that I probably am not “out of the box” ready. I can be “a bit much”, and I recognize that. Don’t be afraid to DM me if you need to get something off your chest.
I communicate strangely over text. The way I mean things isn’t always the way the wait it’s received. I’m working on it, but please give me the benefit of the doubt, or ask me to clarify.
I’m in the American Central time zone, and I usually start work somewhere between 8 and 10 AM, working through to 4 to 6 PM. For meetings and other team activities, 10-4 is the safe zone.
I’m used to working as a team, but alone. That is to say, I do my part of a project, and hand it back for review. If adjustments are needed, pass it back and I’ll take another pass. Sometimes a group session is good to help get over a particular hurdle, and sometimes it’s just fun to work with someone, even virtually. But it’s not the norm.
I answer all Slack messages. I may not always have the answer you want, but I don’t leave people hanging, as it’s a personal peeve of mine to be left on unread.
If we’re working on a project, please use whatever project management tool we’re using for updates. Rest assured, whatever tool we’re using I’ve got notifications for it.
I’m usually pretty vocal. About everything. All the time. Annoyingly so. If I go mute, it’s probably because I don’t feel comfortable saying what I think needs to be said.
As mentioned above, I try to make jokes when I can. I want work to be light-hearted. But when I’m not joking, I’m as direct as I can be, sometimes to the detriment of the point I’m trying to make.
I don’t expect this list to change your actions—but it might help you better understand and empathize with my reactions.
I’d much prefer an “I don’t know”, or an “I can’t look at this right now” to a wrong answer, or to being ignored. Please let me know that I’m not just shouting into the void.
Music! Or better yet, tell me about some music.