Smooth the Data Questions

I was working on a data cleaning task yesterday. After going through the data, I realized that there were some pieces of information missing and there were things didn't make sense in the data (e.g. someone was considered deceased last year, and this year, this same guy was listed as actively working again. How was it possible??? Or someone was listed as male last year and is listed as female this year. Well, it's not possible, it's just uncommon.)

I was told to came up with a list of questions that I would like my client to clarify. That time, I thought, "oh yes, finally I can use all the things I learned from my business writing class now. ;)" Guess what, when my project manager reviewed what I wrote, he changed almost everything that I wrote and suggested me to re-write it.

Reason? It's not really about bad language or poor grammar. It's about phrasing the questions in a way that won't offend the client. I was told to "smooth" the questions.

Does it mean I have to be "political correct" even when I'm dealing with data? How many ways can you ask the benefit specialist to provide the date of birth or the salary of some participants in a pension plan? (And yes, I did write "please...").

Perhaps being straight-forward is part of who I am. Asking "political correct" data questions may be considered as the best practice in the office, but is it really necessary?

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind drafting "political correct" data questions- it's still billable work. And having enough billable hours each month is a good thing in a consulting firm.


Anonymous said...

Yes, even though I am still a college student, I totally understand your situation. Even though I can't change my personality, I realize that I will have to compromise somehow for my future work. :)

yync said...

Sometimes I feel it is a compromise. Have you ever heard people say, "This is how things work here and don't even bother to question the reason behind it..."?

Whenever it is possible, I always remind myself to absorb all the experiences at work like a sponge- so that I can learn all the "rules" and then bend the "rules". ;)