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I want to very politely ask someone (my professor) not to do something anymore, and I've been searching about how I should do it for more than 2 two hours, yet I could not find any useful answer.

To give you more context, I have a timing issue with one of my classes at university, and my professor is working on the issue. However, I want to ask him not to work on it anymore and tell him I'll figure something out myself, but I don't want it to sound rude or sarcastic. How could I ask him? Are any of the following options appropriate?

1 - I kindly ask you not to work on this issue anymore.

2 - Please don't devote your time to working on this issue anymore.

3 - I just wanted to respectfully/politely ask you not to work on this issue anymore.

4 - I'd be grateful if you'd stop working on this issue. (I think it's not appropriate to say "stop doing that", though. To me, it sounds like I'm annoyed and I'm asking him to stop annoying me, but I'm not a native speaker of English, so I'm not sure.)

More generally, how can I ask someone not to do something without being rude/sarcastic or without implying that I'm annoyed?

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  • You've asked it on ELU as well. I suggest you delete one of them.
    – Void
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 5:02
  • 1
    (2) is the best of your alternatives, because it conveys the idea that he need not spend any more of his valuable time on the issue. The others sound as though you are asking him to stop because you don't like him working on it. Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 9:21

2 Answers 2

2

You might say something like

Thank you for considering X; it's not a problem any more because Y. Again, thank you."

That way, you aren't telling the professor what to do, just letting them know that further effort is not necessary.

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  • The problem actually still persists, but I want to imply that even though he couldn’t settle the problem, he has done whatever he could have done for me, so I don’t expect him to take any further action (and I actually don’t want him to) and he should let it go.
    – F.K
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 9:45
  • The professor doesn't need to know whether it's a problem, though, just that it isn't a problem for him any more. Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 10:02
  • It’s a little complicated. He already knows that the problem is not (and won’t be) settled (the department has informed him). So he almost can’t resolve the problem, and he knows it, but there is a minuscule probability (like 1%) that he can ameliorate the situation for me. I want to tell him that he doesn’t need to try for such a small probability, and I will find a way to deal with the problem ( I can’t settle the problem either, but I’ll just deal with it).
    – F.K
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 10:24
  • Sometimes, you don't need to clear everything up in a single sentence. If you maintain a polite tone in conversation, you can convey "don't bother with it any more" without giving offense. Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 16:29
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One of the risks in asking someone to 'politely' but 'affirmatively' do something is that it can come over sounding 'passive-aggressive'. Of your suggestions, 1 & 4 sound a little that way.

Politely asking someone in authority to do something must always come over as a request, not an order. It would also be good if you indicate that your reason for asking is not that you think they would do a bad job of handling the matter, but rather you have thought of a better way.

The most natural to me as a British English speaker would be:

Thank you for offering to help with my issue. After further thought, I feel that I can arrange a solution myself, so there is no need for you to take any action.

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