I was recently asked for some advice for people new to technical communications and I found myself reminded of the Curse of Knowledge: “when we know something, it becomes hard for us to imagine not knowing it. As a result, we become lousy communicators”.
I struggle to remember not only what I didn’t know when I first started out in this profession, but how I learned things on the way. Memory suggests it was a mix of trial and error, good advice and lots of reading of other documentation to see how other people did it.
I won’t give away the advice I passed on, it’ll be published next week, but it did cause me to ponder my own career progression and how I pass on the knowledge I have to the rest of the team.
Passing on a mish-mash of learned knowledge is always tricky and can be dangerous. A recent discussion about improving the quality of our indexing reminds me that the way I learned to do it was based on thinking that is ten years old and may, or may not, have been superseded by better researched methods.
So the best thing you can teach anyone is surely the ability to learn for themselves, give them space to make mistakes (everyone does, it’s an essential part of learning), and help them understand what questions to ask and when best to ask them.