Blog #7: Audience Resistance

Men never stop to ask for directions. Engineers never read the instruction manual. All manuals are boring. How do such social stereotypes get started? Do such stereotypes have any truth to them?

What do you see as reasons people (or at least some people) are resistant to instructions? What kinds of things can effective writers and designers do to counter such resistance? Use the Hibbard article as well as Solving Problems in Technical Communication and Writer/Designer as a jumping off point for your discussion. You can, of course, use additional resources, but use the material in our textbooks about users and audiences and the Hibbard article as a minimum.

Posting: Group 1

Commenting: Group 2

Category: Audience Resistance

For this blog post, consider how social and cultural factors influence rhetorical context in ways that even the best technical communication expert may not be able to control for. Think, too, about what you’ve learned so far about what makes for “good” technical communication and “bad” technical communication, and how these criteria might vary with context. Use the questions below (or similar ones you create) as starting places when you craft your post:

  • What sort of person always reads the instructions first?
  • How do social expectations about masculinity and femininity influence how men and women respond to instruction sets?
  • Are people with specialized disciplinary knowledge (doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientists) more or less likely to read instructions? Why?
  • In what ways can communication design compensate for social and cultural factors that lead to audience resistance?

In thinking about how “good” and “bad” technical communication responds to or accounts for (or fails to respond to or account for) potential audience resistance, you might locate two examples to incorporate into your discussion (not just dropped in at the end, but incorporated and discussed). Locate an example of really bad instructions; take an excerpt for your post to analyze what’s wrong and ways the problems could be corrected. Also locate an example of good instructions; likewise, take an excerpt for your post to analyze what’s particularly effective.

In your Blog #7 post, you need to take a focused position about how understanding audience resistance can assist you in your technical communication process, rather than taking a scattered approach (which would happen if you simply wrote a few sentences in response to each question). Please carefully read and follow the guidelines and posting information for this blog. You can quote from additional articles you read as support for your position. You should include specific workplace examples to further support your argument. Make sure to document your sources.

Hibbard, Catherine. Addressing resistance to change in policy and procedure writing.

Featured Image: “Direction Board” by halfrain on Flickr

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