Tuesday, January 13, 2004

How to set a negative tone in your training from the time learners walk into the classroom

This week I am in training, learning about newswriting at a local editorial consultancy. Maybe you'll notice a difference in my Intelligence column or this blog. Maybe not. You can let me know.

Anyhow, here is something that bothers me about the training. Posted prominently on the walls of the classroom and the inside of the door are signs that read

Classroom Policies
--no eating or drinking
--no using cell phones during class
--no surfing the Web or checking email

Granted, below the last two items are more instructions that begin with please. But, what's large and visible are the headings.

I feel like I'm back in grade school. The signs set a negative tone and make me feel like a child. In the writing world, we're told to restate negatives as positives. So here's what I would rather read:

Classroom Policies

--The lunchroom is provided for eating and drinking. Bringing food and drink into the classroom may damage the computers.

--Breaks are a good opportunity to check your phone messages or return calls. Leaving the classroom during instruction time may distract other students and/or the instructor.

--Feel free to browse the Web or check email during breaks or lunchtime. We want to make sure you get your money's worth of instruction!

Or, as I like to say when editing, SSBB. (Something Similar But Better) What I'm going for is a more positive tone as well as a logical explanation of why the rule was created.


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