Thursday, March 11, 2010

When your boss meddles with your writing

Does your boss meddle with your writing? Or, if not your boss, maybe the General Counsel or CEO?

Like you, I’ve seen it all. They change your actives to passives. They insert vague words and the latest mantras. They make your sentences longer and more complex. They incorrectly change “imply” to “infer,” because they think “infer” means the same as “imply” but sounds classier.

And they hedge. Oh my, how they hedge. They hedge, dodge, sidestep, pussyfoot, twist and slide. They convert your direct, honest copy to indirect, evasive copy.

Sometimes they remind you of the Pointy-Haired Boss in the Dilbert comic strip – a spouter of trendy expressions and misleading bromides.

If this sounds like your workplace, you may want to read Mark Ragan’s advice on how to educate your boss. I don’t guarantee that this advice will be effective, but it’s certainly practical and clever.*

The Takeaway: If your boss meddles with your writing, you don’t have to be passive. Try some education. If it works, keep doing it. If it doesn’t work, you can just stop – and you’ll be no worse off than you are now.

*I disagree with Mr. Ragan on one major point: I believe he has overrated The Wall Street Journal; the paper’s editorial standards have seriously eroded during the last decade.

No comments:

Post a Comment