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I requested to change majors, which required special accommodations for me from the program chair person. I was just notified by email that my request was accepted. In that email, the sender says essentially that my request will be approved 'based on [my] current qualifications'.

I want to acknowledge and express genuine appreciation of these special considerations, without sounding arrogant or patronizing.

My initial instinct was something like the following:

I realize that my coursework doesn't match what the other students have taken, and I appreciate both your willingness to consider the content of the courses I've taken and your time in doing so.

(My entire response is longer, but this is the part that I'm worried sounds arrogant when I read it back.)

I'm particularly concerned about the acknowledgement part, which I've phrased here as "I realize that ...". I've tried replacing 'realize' with various synonyms, but the sentence still sounds patronizing to me. I thought about being more explicit, e.g., "I want to acknowledge that ...", but this doesn't sound 'right' to me either.

How should I phrase a response (in an email) to acknowledge special considerations without sounding arrogant?

closed as primarily opinion-based by cobaltduck, FumbleFingers, jimm101, Jason Bassford, Skooba Oct 18 '18 at 12:38

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    I don't think it sounds patronizing. It's simply your acknowledgement of the special considerations they're taking for you. If you want, you could even leave that first part off. ("I appreciate both your willingness and time taken to consider the content of my courses." or add "...even though they don't match the usual requirements." if you still want some sort of acknowledgment of the original requirements. ) – Gwendolyn Oct 17 '18 at 15:48
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Personally, I think your "initial instinct" statement is clear and works well. I think you'd be fine sending it that way.

Using the word "appreciate" doesn't convey any higher/lower status hierarchy, and people really like that word. It makes them feel good about what they did for someone else. I read it as neutral, when it comes to "arrogant/patronizing or not".

Using "acknowledge" definitely sounds arrogant/patronizing, as if you actually bothered to recognize that someone else (in a lower position) had to do some work for you. Since that's not your case, avoid using it. There are times when "acknowledge" is appropriate and not diminutive, but I don't think this is one of those times.

  • @John, it's normally considered a good idea to wait a while before accepting an answer. I don't know specifically about this site, but other SE/SO sites, it's customary to wait 24 hrs before accepting an answer, so other's have a chance to respond. You don't have to remove the acceptance right now, you can simply change it to another answer if someone else has a better one. – computercarguy Oct 17 '18 at 17:07

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