I asked my professor at the university to write a letter of reference for a job application. I am currently working in her lab as a research assistant, and she gladly did that. When I read her letter I cried tears of joy, so my question does the following sentence makes sense?

This letter made me cry tears of joy and appreciation because of your kind words.

Q2: Is it appropriate to express your emotion in a professional setting?

Note: I am trying to convey the sense that her letter touched my heart, well written, and I will always be thankful.

  • "her letter touched my heart, [was] well written, and I will always be thankful". Why not just say that? – Michael Harvey Aug 11 '19 at 20:57
  • To me, it sounds too simple and does not create powerful imagery; don't you agree? – Rick Aug 11 '19 at 21:02
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    It depends on the culture and etiquette of your academic establishment is. If you are on first name terms with your professor then it may be OK to express yourself in this fashion. On the other hand if the department is hierarchical and uses formal modes of address then a simple thank you note would be more appropriate. – Peter Jennings Aug 11 '19 at 21:18
  • Well, we are in the lab on a "first name terms with our principal investigator," so you saying it is acceptable! – Rick Aug 11 '19 at 21:23

Yes, your sentence makes sense. However, I think it sounds much too emotive for a professional setting.

First of all, did you actually cry tears of joy, literal tears that ran down your cheeks? If not, then you are speaking in hyperbole. Rather than enhancing the message you are trying to express, I think your exaggeration is taking away from it.

I think a much simpler statement would be much more effective:

I will always appreciate the kind words in your letter.

That sentence is direct; it's touching, and it's even a tad sentimental, but it's also truthful and it doesn't go overboard.

  • As a matter of fact, I did cry tears in the literal sense because she talked about how I overcame personal struggles but in a very professional and elegant way. Though I liked your suggested answer too! Thanks a lot for your help. – Rick Aug 11 '19 at 21:30
  • Your original sentence might be acceptable in a context like that: where the letter talks about overcoming hardships and actually prompted tears of joy. If you want to share that with the professor, I wouldn't want to stop you. But we are also supposed to answer questions so that our answers will be helpful to future visitors, and I think it's important to mention that, in some professional contexts, such language might be a little over-the-top. – J.R. Aug 11 '19 at 21:38
  • If I had such a letter from a student, I would worry that they might be forming an inappropriate obsessive attachment. (I speak from experience of colleagues in like situations.) – Michael Harvey Aug 12 '19 at 6:35

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