Ethics of Technical Communication – A Guide to Ethical Principles in Technical Communication

Ethics of Technical Communication – A Guide to Ethical Principles in Technical Communication

Honesty is the ethical principle that technical writers must adhere to and promote. It is the technical writer’s responsibility to provide true and accurate information. The writer must not omit relevant information that would change the audience’s perception of the information they are receiving. In technical writing, it is important not to overemphasize or understate facts in order to convince a reader or audience. An example of this is the omission of losses in profit charts. By omitting information about the years in which the company did not make a profit, they could persuade investments that would not have been made if all the facts were available for review. Honesty in technical writing is important to other ethical principles such as legal and professional ethics. A technical writer has an obligation to research the laws both nationally and internationally and comply with them. Also, a technical writer must understand moral ethics, whether legal or not, and convey the information appropriately.

Confidentiality is an ethical principle that should guide technical communications. Disclosing trade secrets, formulas, and confidential information about a company and its practices is unethical as long as the company operates within moral and ethical boundaries, and may also create legal problems.

A basic understanding of ethical principles helps employees think through dilemmas at work and make sound decisions. Wherever the initiative comes from, from you or from higher authorities, dishonesty is always a lie. When an employee is forced to hide negative information or mislead by exaggerating or communicating the information in a way that makes the product sound better than it is, it leads to unethical behavior.

The technical communicator has a duty to help his organization treat its customers fairly by providing safe and effective products or services. Fairness means avoiding conflicts of interest that suit your own goals that are against the company’s. It also requires that people be treated equally regardless of their gender. religion, ethnicity, race, physical or mental ability.

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