The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Clearly Written, Accurate Report

Communications are extremely important among us. When they're verbal, our listening skills are tested to the nth degree. Our recall of what was said, the meaning of the terms used, and the order of any instructions given all have significance.

If the communication is written, it has even more enduring life and reference. Using the wrong term to identify someone or something could lead to a lot of misunderstanding, make follow-up actions go the wrong way, and even damage reputations for a very long time.

For those of you who are astrology aficianados, you already know that Mercury is in retrograde. Just to fill you in (in case you're not an astrology nut), when Mercury is in retrograde, communications are extremely poor. Contracts entered into at this time will be done improperly and need to be redone. Telephone tag is the name of the game. Electronic devices will malfunction. And communication life will be in chaos until Mercury goes direct -- about six weeks later.

With this in mind, imagine how interesting it was for me to find an official report written by a government employee. There seemed to be a sincere effort to bring truth and justice to those involved, but when the report was read with an active reader's mind, some major questions kept coming up and the credibility of the one giving the report was tolled. Here's an example:

"The vict and the susp were engaged in a verbal dispute."

I talked with someone at the scene. What was reported was that the victim was engaged in a conversation with a visitor and telling anecdotes about things that had happened at the residence over time. One anecdote involved the suspect. The suspect became annoyed at the revelation of the grossness of their behavior and made a threat. The victim challenged the suspect to follow through on the threat.

"The vict then began to strike the vict approx 10 times with her fists to victs face."

This sentence makes any reader want to know why the "victim" began striking herself and especially why so many times. Well, there are masochists and people who will do whatever is necessary in order to obtain pain killer medication. Perhaps that was the reason the victim was striking herself in the face so many times. According to the person who witnessed the incident, it was the suspect who began shouting threats; she was not being threatened. It was the suspect who began the verbal altercation. Instead of walking away from the challenge to live up to her boasts, the suspect decided to use brute force hit the victim.

"The vict fell down and the susp continued to punch and kick the vict."

At least there's helpfulness at this site. Wasn't it nice that even though the victim finally knocked herself down from pummeling herself, the suspect was willing to continue the beating, as well as kicking her. That is true generosity.

Well, it looks like things turned from being self flagellation to a multiple personality free-for-all. If that's the case, don't go to the place where this incident occurred. You won't know which personality you're dealing with nor which will be present. Not only that, if it's the masochistic one (or the multiple one), they're liable to pull you into the frey.

Unfortunately, this report was not written with care and little attention to accuracy. As you may gather, neither of the parties were in a position to proofread what was written and ask for corrections to the narrative. If the victim is looking for redress and credibility, her ability to get either are squelched. It isn't terribly clear who was assaulting whom. Except for the labels, it sounds as though only one person was attacked and a bystander was the one who perpetuated the it.

Mercury is in retrograde for six weeks. It went into this phase on September 17. Until it goes direct, double check your written reports, be careful of using run-on sentences, and strive to be as clear and accurate as is possible. Remember, your report will govern how others respond.