Legal Notice: None of these assignments, including the sexual harassment memo, e-mails, and listening memo, is to be duplicated in any format with any kind of similar wording without the express permission of Dr. G. Jay Christensen. Any attempt to remove assignments and make part of other web pages for other colleges/universities/schools will be dealt with to the full extent of the law of intellectual property.


Directions: Please prepare a written memo using the format, To, From, Date, and Subject. Allow only three or four fully capitalized words for the Subject Line. Please put the format, To, From, and so forth, in all capital letters. Otherwise, align the principal letters following the colons of To, From, Date, and Subject. Do not write to your boss, your friend, or someone else. Write "To" me. Your professor is the first reader. Use a courtesy title, such as Dr. or Mr., to clarify your receiver.

The memo should deal with a one-on-one listening experience you have had this past week (not several months ago) with someone since this assignment has been made. A telephone call or the television do not count. A lecture does not count. Please write the first sentence of the memo telling why you are writing the memo. For example, you might say: "I am writing this memo to tell you . . . " Next, describe the listening experience in some detail telling the who, where, when, what, and why of the experience. Tell how long the listening took. Attach notes for the second half of the listening you did. Include talking captions for every major paragraph (defined as more than two sentences).

Please answer in narrative form (not numbered) the following questions (with answers included in the memo as well) taken from Mortimer Adler's book, How to Speak, How to Listen:

  1. What is the speaker trying to sell, or, in other words, what is the person trying to get me to do or get me to feel?
  2. Why does the speaker think I should be persuaded by this appeal? What reasons are offered, or what facts are presented in support of this appeal?
  3. What points that I think are relevant has the speaker failed to mention? What has the speaker failed to say that might sway me one way or the other?
  4. When the speaker has completed the persuasive effort, what questions of significance to me has the speaker failed to answer, or even consider?
  5. My question: How did you effectively use mirroring to help your listening experience? Why or why not did you use mirroring? (See Web listening pages on explanation--Listening in Information Age.

You do not need to read Adler's book to complete this assignment. You do not have to worry if your memo is longer than the normal memo you write at work. You should expect the memo to encompass one or two pages. It is long. You need to read Adler's thought-provoking questions and answer them based on your conversation. Your speaker persuades in a conversation through the force of ideas.

Please close your memo by explaining what you have learned about your listening habits. Talk about which part of S-I-E-R gave you the most trouble in listening effectively. Do not use the words, interesting, feel, a lot, and great anywhere or ever again this semester. How do you plan to improve the next listening experience?

Word of Caution: For your second page heading of the memo--even if you only turned over a page of notebook paper--include To, Page, and Date. Remember your listening experience has to be one on one, looking into the other person's eyes and observing nonverbal cues. You need to talk about yours and your speaker's body language in the memo. The listening experience has to occur this semester during the time you are taking this class.


For the Women

You have been employed at the Firm for approximately 12 months. It is time for your second performance review. The last performance review said in the category with "relationship with management": "She unduly refuses to follow her manager's instructions, creating a drain on management." Lately, you have been bothered by some happenings in your office setting. When the boss, Harry Griggswald, says hello to you, he usually places his arm around you. This immediate male boss has been making sexual innuendos and cracking sexual jokes at meetings. For example, the boss cracked a joke about Mike Travela and his homosexual lover. You feel uncomfortable about these experiences and are not sure what to do. You are beginning to feel degraded. Today, the boss asked you come to his apartment for some late night work to get the budget ready.

You also noticed you were left out of an important meeting that would have allowed you to obtain needed technical specifications sooner.In addition to this problem, you remember when the boss said to you recently: "You have a great sweater on. It looks like it would be good for both of us." Today you received wrapped candy on your desk shaped in the form of a kiss. A note accompanied the candy pieces: "This is for my princess." You don't know who sent the candy.

You talked to a former female employee who told you her former boss, now your boss, said to her one day: "You know, you're not in the club like I am." What to do? You have decided to write a memo to the boss, not the boss's boss, asking him to cease and desist. You must be so careful with your language, because your job is at stake. This memo is called a cover-your-anatomy type of memo. You need to point out to your boss how uncomfortable you feel with the innuendos and what needs to be done to stop the possible sexual harassment. Remember that sexual harassment is a legal term; do not use the term loosely in the memo. Be precise in what you are saying, because this memo may have to be used later in a paper trail. Be careful about using subject lines, such as "Sexual Harassment" or "Your Sexual Innuendos."

For the Men

You are employed in the Firm for approximately six months. Your boss, Abigail Stylist, is female, and lately you have noticed some fascinating happenings in the office. Your performance review is due shortly, and your immediate boss suggested at a private meeting you could get ahead more readily in the company if you would come to her apartment. You thought you heard her say: "She would make it worth your time." She also suggested some of your work was not up to par, and you could improve your efforts by coming to her apartment weekly. Her closing comment when you left her office last week was: "You certainly have nice buns. Stay in shape!"

At lunchtime the other day you noticed your boss was staring at your body when you were getting coffee. That same day she pushed three times against your body in the workplace and near the copier.

You are concerned about the innuendo for late night work. You consider yourself a professional, and dating the boss appears to be off limits in the office. Besides, a sexual harassment policy exists in the company. If you date the boss or go to the apartment, the office grapevine or gossip may start. You have already heard by the grapevine your boss has slept with other men. You boss recently asked you if you were a virgin. A question posed in the office included: "Have you committed adultery?" All of these office situations remind you of your unpleasant adolescent years. When you leave the boss's office after a particular long discussion with the door closed one day, you notice office whispering by the female employees.

What to do? You have decided to write a cover-your-anatomy memo to your immediate boss asking her to cease and desist. You have to be so careful with the diplomatic language. You realize the risks (including trumped-up charges and dismissal), but this memo could serve as a paper trail if the occasion arose. Explain frankly in the memo how uncomfortable you are and what needs to be done to solve the problem. Talk about the sexual harassment policy of the company if one exists.

Requirements for Women and Men

Set the memo up with the usual format. Use the name in the case for the "To" line. Under no circumstances, address the memo to me.

Consider using talking captions if the memo reads better with them. Remember this assignment emphasizes using the memo as a political tool where appropriate. In the real world, you may have to carry this memo beyond the immediate supervisor's level. Use the case material as given. DO NOT WRITE TO THE BOSS'S BOSS. DO NOT WRITE OR SEND TO ANY MALE OR FEMALE FACULTY ON THIS CAMPUS OR ANY OTHER CAMPUS. You are trying to settle the situation before it gets further out of hand. You may copy Human Resources, if you desire, because you want to assume a more rigid corporate structure. Once you copy Human Resources, you are placing the issue in a different framework.

Additional Bonuses on Sexual Harassment Memo

When you have finished your sexual harassment memo, you may want to pursue the subject further. You may want to collect an actual sexual harassment policy from a corporation or an organization. Please do not use the Web for the university’s sexual harassment policy. Please do not include a sexual harassment policy that only relates to students from a community college or a four-year institution. You must actually ask Human Resources at an organization for a copy of its sexual harassment policy. When you have retrieved the policy, you should critically analyze the policy for the following criteria. You should also attach the policy to your incoming assignment.

Susan L. Webb in Step Forward: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace--What You Need to Know! (MasterMedia Limited, 1991, p. 41) has detailed the following elements of a well-written sexual harassment policy: