This chapter is based on the latest findings in rhetoric, social science, and communication theory. Treated here are interpersonal problems routinely confronted by writers in the workplace. Students need to understand that any piece of writing can be redefined by each reader—depending on that reader’s biases, preferences, motives, or attitude. To introduce the notion of interpersonal problem solving, consider saying something like this: Your suggestions or ideas might impress one reader while enraging or offending someone else. Your major task as a writer is to do everything you can to ensure that your document has the effect you intend on your audience. Even the clearest and most informative communication can spell disaster if a writer has ignored the situation’s political realities. Audiences are wondering “What do I think about the person making the argument?” “Do I like and trust this person?” “Does this person seem to know what he or she is talking about?” “Is this person trying to make me look stupid?” Effective communicators are effective critical thinkers; they know how to ask for things, or how to instruct or warn or direct or advise. They know how to avoid asking for too much, how to respect a situation’s constraints, and how to support their claims convincingly.
Answers 1. The act of attempting to influence someone’s actions, opinions, or decisions. 2. Implicit persuasion assures readers that the information provided is accurate, the facts are correct, and the writer is fluent, competent, and knowledgeable. Explicit persuasion seeks to win readers over to a particular point of view about an issue that is in some way controversial. 3. Before you undertake writing a persuasive document, you need to first consider what you want it to accomplish. The four types of persuasive goals are 1) influence people’s opinions, 2) enlist people’s support, 3) submit a proposal, and 4) change people’s behavior. 4. If you can predict their reaction, you can know if they’ll accept or resist your argument. 5. Compliance (the audience accepts under pressure), identification (the audience accepts for personal reasons), and internalization (the audience accepts because the argument makes good sense).
Answers (continued) 6. The power connection (the audience accepts out of compliance), the relationship connection (the audience accepts out of identification), and the rational connection (the audience accepts out of internalization). 7. It allows you to make a balanced argument, with both sides of the issue considered evenly and fairly. 8. Organizational constraints (constraints based on company rules), legal constraints (constraints based on the law), ethical constraints (Constraints based on honesty and fair play), time constraints (constraints based on the right timing), and social and psychological constraints (constraints based on audience). 9. Offering convincing evidence and appealing to common goals and values. 10. Recognize that cultures differ, understand the importance of face saving in all cultures, an learn all you can about various business cultures.