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2.5: Your Voice

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    Sandra Cisneros\(^{24}\) explains, “As a writer, I continue to analyze and reflect on the power words have over me.” Cisneros’s statement may resonate with emerging writers in classrooms, outside of classrooms, and spaces of their own making to write and create with language. Writers affirm their lives and empower the lives of others who connect with their words and concepts. The first-person point of view is an essential marker in the making of meaning for both the writer and reader and need not be abandoned nor silenced. Even if the self is briefly mentioned and noted in one’s written deliberations, its use will suffice in making oneself known and present in the discussion of ideas, concepts, and perspectives. One learns about oneself as one writes and by asserting the self. Indeed, words and literacies carve the identities of writers who are influenced by the societies they inhabit and the subjects they study. In essence, words empower and define us as Cisneros observes.

    Some writers across the disciplines, which include the arts, education, engineering, mathematics, technology, and sciences, attempt in various cloaked forms to remove their sense of self as they write under the assumption that writing must be as universal as possible. Unfortunately, this means less personality and presence. This is done in detrimental forms if the writer fails to acknowledge purpose, actions, and influences to an audience. Furthermore, writers and thinkers are connected to their subjects and arguments, which they deem worthy of explanation or description. As such, writers learn about themselves through their writing and the interconnectedness to thought and argument. In fact, writers give authority and credibility to experience through their expertise and in structure and argument. The reader entrusts the writer’s self not only by the levels of expertise for having done the labor and research, but also by the valuable experiences drawn from analysis. In short, it is a false idea to eliminate one’s first-person point of view in writing, rather than supporting the writer’s personal and communicative voice on the print and digital page.

    It’s worth considering\(^{25}\) how writers first get chastised and come to believe they must leave themselves out of their writing in the first place. When they are just beginning to experiment with language, most of the writing they are asked to produce draws from personal experience: They write about their friends, families, and pets. Personal narrative abounds and overflows within their lines of writing on the page or on the monitor screen of their computer or device. Their writing revolves around who they are and what matters and happens to them.

    Guidelines for Creating Your Own Voice\(^{26}\)

    It’s one thing to have a voice that isn’t used in your “professional life,” it’s quite another thing to figure out what you will sound like in communicating in the workplace and how that translates to paper/screen.

    I mean… the real question is: How does one mesh their unique style of language with professionalism when they write for or in the workplace? Most teachers of writing would appreciate any number of combinations of individuality and technicality. And in the workplace, HOPEFULLY\(^{27}\), you will be able to observe the stylistic convention of your profession and your employer’s organization, while simultaneously expressing your individuality, make reading easy for your audience and impacting them while they are reading. 

    Consider the following guidelines in light of the way they will affect your readers’ view of your communication’s individuality, usability/technicality, and persuasiveness. Based on what readers see, they draw conclusions about you and your attitudes that can enhance or distract from the persuasiveness of your communications. 

    Guideline A: how much distance?

    How much “distance” do your readers expect you to establish? In personal style, you appear close to your readers because you use personal pronouns and address readers directly. How conversational the piece is may also convey this message. In your “workplace style” you might distance yourself from your readers by avoiding personal pronouns. The style you choose depends on the purpose of the writing and the audience.

    Guideline B: Cultural Background

    In the United States and Europe, employees often use an informal voice and address their readers by their first names. In Japan, writers commonly use a formal style and address their readers by their titles and last names. If a U.S. writer used a familiar, informal voice in a letter, memo, or e-mail, Japanese readers might feel that the writer has not properly respected them. On the other hand, Japanese writers may seem distant and difficult to relate to if they use the formality that is common in their own cultures when writing to U.S. readers. In either case, if the readers judge that the writer hasn’t taken the trouble to learn about or doesn’t care about their culture they may be offended. Directness is another aspect of voice. When writing to people in other cultures, try to learn and use the voice that is customary there. If possible, ask for advice from people who are from your reader’s culture or who are knowledgeable about it.

    Guideline C: Ethics Guideline – Avoid Stereotypes!

    Stereotypes are very deeply embedded in many cultures. Most of us are prone to use them occasionally especially when conversing informally. As a result, when we use more colloquial and conversational language to develop our distinctive voice for our workplace writing, we may inadvertently employ stereotypes. Unfortunately, even inadvertent uses of stereotypes have serious consequences for individuals and groups. People who are viewed in terms of stereotypes lose their ability to be treated as individual human beings. If they belong to a group that is unfavorably stereotyped, they may find it nearly impossible to get others to take their talents, ideas, and feelings seriously. The range of groups disadvantaged by stereotyping is quite extensive. People can be stereotyped because of their race, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, weight, physical handicap, occupation, and ethnicity. In some workplaces, manual laborers, union members, clerical workers, and others are the victims of stereotyping by people in white-collar positions.

    There is absolutely no tolerance for stereotypes in professional writing. Anything you write will be worthless to most audiences if you include any type of stereotypes. Using stereotypes, even accidentally, will seriously damage your reputation with your readers and may even cause your professional relationship to end. So, be very aware of any stereotypes that may exist especially when writing cross-culturally.


    Holes in Diversity

    Once one figures out their voice – in an academic setting or not – they can start to understand the necessity of employing that voice to tell their story. This book wants to encourage ALL humans to write, whether the writing is published or unpublished. One should note, however, that some stories are not as prominent in the “literature industry” and that makes them all the more valued to be told. Here are some examples:

    In particular, these types of stories seem to be missing from literature:


    <insert questions here created by students>


    \(^{24}\)Snippet from = Rodriquez, Rodrigo Joseph. “Leave Yourself Out of Your Writing.” Bad Ideas About Writing. Edited by Cheryl E. Ball and Drew M. Loewe. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Libraries, Digital Publishing Institute, 2017. CC-BY.

    \(^{25}\)Snippet from = Parker, Kimberly. “Response: Never Use ‘I’.” Response to: Rodriquez, Rodrigo Joseph. “Leave Yourself Out of Your Writing.” Bad Ideas About Writing. Edited by Cheryl E. Ball and Drew M. Loewe. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Libraries, Digital Publishing Institute, 2017. CC-BY.

    \(^{26}\)"Professional and Technical Writing/Rhetoric/Author/Style." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 8 May 2017, 01:04 UTC. 10 Oct 2019, 17:39 <>. Licensed CC-BY-SA.

    \(^{27}\)Truly, I hope you are all going to be able to be yourselves in the workplace, but that might not happen (bummer), so let’s prepare for if that doesn’t happen easily…

     \(^{28}\)She has ties to the Wahpeton, ND area!

    This page titled 2.5: Your Voice is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sybil Priebe (Independent Published) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform.