Module 12 - Persuasive Messages
No one likes being told that they’re wrong or bad.
What aspects of the context may affect reader response? Status of the economy? Morale?
Relationship of writer and reader? Any special circumstances?
Most renters have very negative feelings about the rental agency or landlord.
12.25 Writing a Performance Appraisal for a Member of a Collaborative Group (LO 12-1 to
If your students do extensive group work, you may want them to appraise each others’
Kitty required students to list at least two but no more than three areas for improvement.
Students hate this, complaining that their groups are good and they have to be really picky to
come up with improvements. But requiring everyone to list areas for improvements removes the
onus from the writer. In some cases, students do need to improve, and their fellow group
members, eager to maintain harmony, would be reluctant to mention these areas.
Kitty graded one copy of the appraisal and returned it to the writer and kept the second copy to
see whether the student being evaluated made the recommended improvements during the
second half of the course. Working hard, performing positive group roles, and being responsive
to suggestions merits an “A” on the portion of the grade based on group process. At the end of
the course, she had students write a self-appraisal responding to her mid-term evaluation. Her
experience was that students do change their behavior—even when she hadn’t said the behavior
must be changed to raise the grade.
12.26 Asking for a Job Description (LO 12-1 to LO 12-8)
A good response recognizes that while employees are obligated to respond, the quality of their
response will vary depending on what they perceive is the purpose of the writer’s request. Are
they being asked to simply clarify their job description? To make up for someone else’s error or
sloth? To defend their job?
Good responses take into consideration the economic climate and health of the organization. For
instance, a request from an organization doing well will seem more or less routine to many
employees; the same request when facing cutbacks and employee layoffs, however, may be
perceived as threatening.
Context will determine whether the writer uses a direct or problem-solving approach. Either is
appropriate, but writers should be prepared to explain their choices.
Polishing Your Prose: Narrative Voice (Odd-numbered answers are in the back of the
Several answers are possible—here are likely ones.
2. The voice here is bureaucratic.
4. This voice sounds immature and unprofessional for a business setting.
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