This type of feedback is the most common. Evaluative feedback often involves judgment of the writer and his or her ethos (or credibility). We look for credibility clues when we examine the letterhead; feel the stationery; or read the message and note the professional language, correct grammar, and lack of spelling errors. Conversely, if the writer’s credibility is undermined by errors, is perceived to be inappropriately informal, or presents questionable claims, the reader’s view of the writer will be negative. The reader is less likely to read or respond to the message communicated by a source judged to lack credibility.
In an interpersonal context, evaluative feedback may be communicated as a lack of eye contact, a frequent glance at a cell phone, or an overt act to avoid communication, such as walking away from the speaker. In written communication, we don’t have the opportunity to watch the reader “walk away.” As a business writer, your ethos is an important part of the message.
In aspects of interpersonal interaction, behavioral evaluations are one type of evaluative feedback. A behavioral evaluation assesses the action and not the actor, but the business writer lacks this context. You don’t always know when or where your content will be read and evaluated, so it is in your best interest to be consistently professional. Fact checking, elimination of errors, and a professional image should be habits, not efforts of will. They should be an automatic part of the writing process for any business writer.