Marie
Is it impolite...? Today I told my professor "I think you didn't notice that part of my writing". I guess I shouldn't have used "notice". Because he got upset from my words. I didn't mean to offend him by saying that he doesn't care about my writing (because he really does). So I corrected my words to "I think you forgot to check that part of my writing". Do you also think that I shouldn't have used "notice"?
Feb 2, 2016 6:37 PM
Answers · 19
Maybe it was the way you said it ? Quite often the tone of the voice has a bigger impact than the words that have been used . Anyway, don't worry about it !
February 2, 2016
If anything, I would say "forgot" is (only slightly) more accusatory than "not notice", because "forgot" suggests a fault on his part, whereas, although "not notice" could be that too, it also allows the possibility that it was something about the way you presented it -- maybe it was in an appendix or a footnote or something that was easily overlooked. I agree with the others that your teacher seems to have a rather thin skin and that it should have been OK either way. However, if you know you need to be particularly sensitive with with this fellow, another way to soften such a remark is with extra words or to put as a question, e.g. "I think you may not have noticed ..." or "Perhaps you didn't notice ...?".
February 2, 2016
Is your professor/teacher a native speaker of English? Just interested to know. It might shed some light on why he got upset. Or it might not!
February 2, 2016
Only one part of politeness is the wordage used. With professors or teachers it can be especially tricky in some cultures as they expect to be treated as the fountain of all knowledge and not to have either their competence or validity questions. I however never got on all that well with that but I did learn there are better and worse ways of approaching this sort of topic. I should note this isn't just with teachers but works pretty well in most situations where you are dealing with someone who a) has some power over you b)is a bit thin skinned. So instead of saying did you notice this, which directly questioning either their commitment do do a good job, competence to understand what you meant or worse. I would approach it differently. Sorry I'm confused by my mark/what you said/etc, I though I had addressed the issue here, could you please help me understand what I did wrong so that I can try to do better in the future. Basically instead of accusing him you rephrase it to be a request for help to understand what happened. Sadly depending on the person even this can ruffle some people feathers. It is however a useful skill to develop and will be very useful for dealing with pople in general. As I was taught as a kid you can always go from polite to impolite if polite doesn't work, you can't really do it the other way around though.
February 2, 2016
Interesting exchange. Actually "notice" is exactly the correct word. Just because he is a professor and it's his job to correct your work, that doesn't mean he's perfect and is incapable of missing something. If you felt like he missed something you wrote, then he didn't notice it, and that's a perfectly fine word. I find it interesting that you say you tried to soften your statement with the word "forgot". If he truly forgot to check a certain part of your writing, that actually represents more negligence. If he forgot, that means he didn't read it at all, which is worse than just making a small human mistake. If he thought your saying that he "forgot" sounded less offensive, he doesn't have a clear understanding of the logic of these two words. It sounds to me like he took offense for no reason [or maybe felt embarrassed to be corrected by a student], and reacted a little harshly.
February 2, 2016
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Marie
Language Skills
English, French, Italian, Persian (Farsi), Spanish
Learning Language
French, Italian, Spanish