The trouble, however, remains that negative tones stick in the mind. If someone (OK, a woman) is described as feisty, for example, it is very easy to read that as ‘trouble’. The second thought may be, it’s not a word you’d use about a man, but the third thought may still be, ‘but would it be risky to employ this person?. Once you’ve heard that word, how do you strike it from the record, as a court of law might require. It’s lodged in the brain and hard to ignore. If the letter is sufficiently blatantly sexist or unacceptably rude, suggesting some long-running feud between groups perhaps, then it is easy to say such a letter should be cast aside. The less dramatic the damning, the more pernicious the effect, I suspect.