Dear document reviewers,

It’s not about you.

It’s about whether the document is fit for purpose (and fit for its readers).

In my estimation, about 70% of all feedback from reviewers of documents in the workplace is not based on correctness or making a document fit for purpose. It’s editing or rewriting or suggestions for change based on I’d say it differently.

Do you have any idea how unhelpful that is?

  1. It’s demotivating for writers because they can never be mind-readers – they can’t actually emulate your voice.
  2. It’s an incredible waste of time. The writers spend time writing, the reviewers spend time reviewing, the writers spend time changing.

And why?

All because the reviewer has a preferred way of expressing an idea.

Not because it’s correcting an error. Not because it improves the document. Not because it’s better for readers.

One of my dreams for the universe is that all people tasked with reviewing documents in the workplace would be trained in the art and skill of doing so.

Even if the main thing they learned was the ability to use one filter question as they reviewed, the world would be a happier place.

The question?

Does this NEED to be improved,

or do I just want to change it to the way I would write it?

I’m not suggesting that we’re egomaniacs.  One part of human nature means that when someone asks for our eyes over a document, we have to make some suggestions to show we put some effort in, or that we have something of value to contribute. There’s another part of human nature that means we’re predisposed to think there’s one right way, and also predisposed to think that our way is right.

I actually believe it takes a high level of EQ and a decent amount of self-discipline to apply this filter while reviewing a document.

And I am ever the optimist.

Dear document reviewers,

Why don’t you save us all some time?

Back the truck up. And let your writers have their own voice.