Competitive Communication: A Rhetoric for Modern Business

By Barry Eckhouse | Go to book overview

2
ORGANIZATION AND THE
COMPETITIVE MESSAGE
Order in a World of Information

From millions of sources all over the globe, through every possible channel and medium -- light waves, airwaves, ticker tapes, computer banks, telephone wires, television cables, satellites, printing presses -- information pours in. Behind it, in every imaginable form of storage on paper, on video and audio tape, on discs, film, and silicon chips-is an ever greater volume of information waiting to be retrieved. Like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, we are awash in information. And all the sorcerer has left us is a broom.

-- Neil Postman, Technopoly

Most working professionals, particularly those in middle and upper management, routinely produce a variety of messages, many of which are in the written form of memoranda, electronic mail, letters, reports, performance reviews, instructions, procedures, and proposals. Yet when these messages are judged according to the intentions of the writers, they traditionally fall into just two categories of writing: persuasive and informative. 1

Of the two, persuasive writing is much more demanding because it attempts to bring about an important change in the reader's beliefs or actions. Thus writing persuasively requires giving considerable attention to a resistant reader, one who can be expected to challenge the writer's efforts. Writing persuasively also requires examining not only one's own beliefs but also the reasons one holds them and the reasons others do not. Because this form of writing is so demanding, and because it is usually recognized as the most advanced form of composition, it will be considered at length in the next chapter. 2 In the present chapter, we will look at a preparatory task: informative writing.

Writing informatively is the working professional's most frequent writing task, one that has an oral counterpart in voice mail and impromptu speaking. 3 Informative

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