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TL/DR:

Does "I was led to believe" imply "my expectations were betrayed"?

Does it have an aggressive connotation?

Longer version:

I am looking for an internship in a large company installed in several different countries. I know there are openings in Singapore and wanted to get there, however I was not clear on that part in my email (though it was sent to the Singapore office), and thus was offered an internship in Germany.

I wanted to tell them that "I was led to believe that there were openings in Singapore" but fear it might sound aggressive, which is absolutely opposite to my objectives.

Is it the correct phrase to use?

  • I was led to believe says nothing at all about the result. (So, your use of betrayal seems wrong on several levels.) You could say I was led to believe something, and it turned out to be true. In that context, you could be grateful and relieved—assuming you used the term to indicate that somebody actually had you believe the thing that worked out as described rather than just using it as an idiom. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jul 1 at 19:01
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I would assume the risk yourself. "I was led to believe" does somewhat imply that you were misled, even if that wasn't the case. Instead, place the potential misunderstanding on yourself to avoid any appearances of negativity or accusation

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you have job openings in Singapore.

If they do correct you, you've left them an out for them to do so, while making in clear that your beliefs might be in error.

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I'd say that being written in the past tense as your sample sentence is, i.e.

I was led to believe that there were openings in Singapore.

could easily be taken as implying that there are no openings available now, contrary to you were led to believe. Which, in turn, could be taken as your feeling betrayed.

If you write

I've been led to believe that there are openings in Singapore.

it has a more positive spin, that is, you still believe that there might be openings available. You could also add something like "which I'm keen to pursue" to show your enthusiasm for those positions.

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You could say, without any implication that you were misled, “I was under the impression that there might be openings in Singapore, and I do hope this is the case, because ...”

This, unlike “led to believe,” makes you responsible for the misunderstanding, if there was one, and gives you the opportunity to express your interest in going there and how you can serve the employer’s interest in doing so.

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"I was led to believe..." may or may not be perceived as aggressive. But it does imply that you were misled, whereas in fact you could be considered at fault for not making your preference clear. You could rectify the matter by writing something like:

Unfortunately, I did not make it clear that I am looking for an internship in Singapore. I know there were openings at this location and I hope this is still the case.

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