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If your reader questions if your information can be a supported, rather than just being your opinion, and you can provide no valid support, you lose credibility. How easy is it to regain lost credibility? I firmly believe that once your credibility is harmed, you can never restore it to its maximum level. To make sure your writing is credible, do your research. Support your opinions. Check your information carefully, and use reliable, valid sources.
Consider this example. Your supervisor sent you an urgent email that he needs your exact sales to calls ratio in ten minutes for a report that he needs to send to the CEO in 30 minutes. You're busy, but you think you remember the figures correctly, so you send those to your boss. Your boss uses the figures you sent, but later realizes they are incorrect. What happens the next time you're asked for figures? Will the boss double check? Will she still remember your giving incorrect information six months from now? Even if everything you have sent since has been accurate, probably.
She may not double check the figures you send six months later, but in the back of her mind, she'll remember that once, you gave her incorrect information that made her look bad. That's human nature. Here's another example. Would management accept this statement as proof that a beverage machine should be located on the fifth floor? "I recommend that a beverage machine be installed "on the fifth floor because I talked with several "employees and most of them said "they would use it." Probably not. This message is more credible.
"I recommend that a beverage machine "be installed on the fifth floor because "120 employees, 80% of the employees on that floor, "said they would use it at least twice a day." Much more likely to get the machine installed because you've offered specific support. How can you gather credible facts? Primary sources, such as questionnaires, surveys, and experiments, and secondary sources, such as books, magazine articles, and reports, can be equally credible or not credible.
Questions to ask as you analyze the credibility of your sources are, how were the data collected? For example, were objective questions or biased questions asked? How often would you use the drink machine versus, you would use the drink machine a lot, wouldn't you? The first is objective. The second is a vague, leading question. What was the sample size? Did you ask three of your coworkers or all 120 people in the department? Did the person reporting the data have a bias? For example, your brother-in-law works for the company that installs the drink machines.
How current is the information? The survey was conducted last week, or a year ago, when you heard someone say that he thought a drink machine was a good idea. You should learn to question the credibility of the information you receive and take the necessary steps to be sure that you give credible information as you become a more effective business writer.
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