“I’ll be the judge of that”

I’ve noticed a recent increase in the number of emails I receive that say things like “this is a polite reminder” or “this is a gentle reminder”. While there’s never anything in the message to contradict the sender’s choice of adjective, I always think that the perception of courtesy and gentility is in the eye of the beholder.

A similar phenomenon often appears in grant proposals, and again I’m inclined to think that any competent reviewer should be able to decide for themselves whether an award is prestigious or a lab world-renowned.

I’m all for blowing your own trumpet (especially in grant proposals, natch), but a mute is always an option… especially when you’re up against a tight word limit!

I could be wrong, though – what do you think?

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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7 Responses to “I’ll be the judge of that”

  1. Bob O'H says:

    I agree with you on “we are a world-renowned lab”, but had never thought about it for gentle reminders. I’ve interpreted these as saying (“just a nudge, I’m not pissed off with you. Yet”).

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Yeah, that’s my interpretation too. I just received so many of them in such a short space of time that I started over-thinking the phenomenon :)

  2. My boss is fond of saying that if someone feels to write that their group is “world renowned”, it probably isn’t. As an adjective, it’s as useless as the phrase “Needless to say…”, and should never be used. IMHO of course.

  3. “Needless to say” is about as useful and necessary as “It has been shown that”

  4. Beth Snow says:

    Any time I get an email with “gentle reminder” in it, I picture the person who sent it red-faced and screaming “WTF is wrong with you???!!! Why haven’t you sent me that [insert item name] that I already asked you for 17 times???!!!”

    • I wonder how often the word “gentle” or “polite” is added at the very end of the email drafting process, after all the rough and rude stuff has been judiciously edited out?

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