The first time I was given a “gentle reminder” was from one of my employees. She was owed some money from a paycheck discrepancy and I told her to remind me so I could fix it. I was genuinely overworked between home and work life and knew I was struggling to keep up, so I would frequently make requests like this from my staff. What they wanted was important to me and I wanted to deliver. To ensure I wouldn’t drop the ball with getting them whatever they needed (a raise, promotion, letter of recommendation, schedule change) as soon as I could catch my breath, I would ask the people to text or email me a few days out as a reminder. A kind of checks and balances to make sure nothing fell through the cracks and to remind everyone I’m only human and my workload is outrageous, be nice and help me help you. We’re on the same team; I promise. She texted me around pay day and said something along the lines of, “This is just a gentle reminder that you said you would look into me getting paid for xyz.” I immediately fell in love with the phrase. I thought, in a time where everyone complains about how it’s so difficult to decode text messages because inflection and tone are open to the reader’s interpretation, this text was so refreshing. It said exactly what she meant and exactly what I needed to hear to understand her. She knew I was busy and respected that and didn’t want to illicit anything but positive vibes. She also really could use that money when I have a moment to help her out. This is why “lol” has come to mean, “I don’t mean the statement before or after this in a bitchy, dominant, threatening or judgy way at all” or if used sarcastically, the opposite of that. Which compounds this awful cycle of possible misinterpretation.
Gentle reminders are particularly special because they take the pressure of having to figure out what the sender’s tone was completely off the recipient. In a society where social anxiety is rampant this is a refreshing and comforting way to speak to people.
The true solution, of course, is for us to just talk to each other. lol
Since we both know you’re not going to call your Aunt/cousin/step brother/neighbor/work acquaintance because you’re too anxious and/or busy living your best life. Why not just include your sentiment in your text? For instance depending on how seriously you take the situation you could say, “I’m borderline angry about you eating my cheesecake out of the fridge while I was at work. What can we do to fix this?” or “I can’t believe you ate my cheesecake. I’ve never been so sad or heartbroken in my life.” or “I’m super f*cking pissed. Replace my cheesecake or die, hoe.” Or whatever you’re really feeling when you type or dictate your message into your phone. I don’t know. Just a thought.
Whether you decide to be brave and start expressing yourself honestly through text or not; consider using the “gentle reminder”. It truly helps relieve some pressure and possible anxiety for the recipient of whatever message you are sending and it only takes a second. Thanks for coming to my Ted talk.