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I have a question about the phrase "dismiss someone's concern"

Suppose the following is a paragraph that is from a recommendation letter:

I was worried about her performance due to the demanding nature of the curriculum and the fact summer session has a faster pace than regular semesters. But Michelle dismissed my concern by proving to be a person who is able to successfully develop plans and implement them.

Is "dismissed my concern" correct use in this context? I think dismiss is a negative word. I am looking for a better phrase to express the meaning


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In OP's context, allayed my fears is a common phrasing.

As @Kristina says, dismissed my concerns is reminiscent of was dismissive of my concerns, so it's probably not the best choice for a context where Michelle isn't necessarily actively doing anything for the specific purpose of making OP feel more confident of her progress.

I notice most of us (probably without even thinking) are pluralising OP's singular concern when we repeat the word in our own text. I think that's a fairly marginal distinction with concern (both versions sound natural enough to me, and don't really convey any difference in nuance).

But with fears (which I think is idiomatically more likely after allayed) I have the definite sense that the singular form implies one very specific and significant fear. It doesn't seem right to me except in contexts where that specific fear is (or shortly will be) explicitly defined.

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By making your concerns go away, either by being dismissed, or "erasing all doubt", to use another phrase, in the context of your example, dismiss is neither negative or positive.

Now if you had said, "Michelle was dismissive of my concerns", that could be construed as a negative comment - particularly out of context of the rest of the sentence where she is exonerated by her performace, thus "making your concerns go away".


As jwpat7 rightfully pointed out - you dismiss your own concerns. So you might rephrase your sentence:

"I dismissed my concerns about Michelle when she proved to be a person who could successfully develop plans and implement them."

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I disagree that “dismiss is entirely appropriate”. It was not Michelle that dismissed (cleared from mind) the concerns, it was the writer. Michelle's actions aided the writer in dismissing the concerns. – jwpat7 Mar 14 '13 at 18:36
@jwpat7 - thanks - good call. I edited my answer. – Kristina Lopez Mar 14 '13 at 18:47
Thanks, have upvoted. One quibble – I tend to use rightfully only as in its first sense at wiktionary, and always use rightly for that second sense. Why did you use rightfully instead of rightly? – jwpat7 Mar 14 '13 at 18:55
@jwpat7, I don't use rightly at all, I guess. I used rightfully in this case to mean "justifiably" in that I was acknowledging and agreeing that your argument against my statement was entirely correct. When I hear "rightly", I think of the line from the Donovan song, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mellow_Yellow where someone interjects, "Quite rightly!" – Kristina Lopez Mar 14 '13 at 19:16
@jwpat7,Kristina: That's one way of looking at it. But just as a a government minister may dismiss concerns about some policy by pointing out its checks and balances, say, surely Michelle could dismiss someone's concerns about her abilities by showing them to be unfounded. – FumbleFingers Mar 15 '13 at 4:52

The word that pops to mind is alleviated.

Michelle alleviated my concerns by proving to be a person who is able to successfully develop plans and implement them.

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Different shade of meaning: an alleviated concern is still there (though less strong), an allayed/dismissed one is not. – TimLymington Mar 14 '13 at 18:42
Or perhaps assuage. – jsn Mar 14 '13 at 19:59

I think you're looking for dispell.

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