If you like this short and sweet edition of the Damn Gravity Newsletter, give it a 🖤 and share with one person. Thanks!
Photo by Justin Eisner on Unsplash
Use Active Verbs
I once had an English teacher tell me, “Never use passive verbs unless the subject is being murdered.”
And you know what? He was not far off.
As a leader, nothing kills your authority like passing blame. And that’s exactly what passive verbs do.
“This month’s revenue goal was stifled by unforeseen market conditions.”
“Shipping the software update was delayed by last-minute bugs.”
“The customer was lost in a price-battle with our closest competitor.”
Tell me, do these statements sound like leadership? Not at all. They actually sound like excuses.
Active verbs take responsibility.
“We missed this month’s revenue goals.”
“We delayed shipping due to last-minute bugs.”
“I lost the customer to a price battle.”
You’re not passing blame — you’re tackling the problem head-on. That’s great leadership. That’s great writing.
Next time you find yourself reaching for a passive phrase, stop to ask yourself why. Chances are, you’re trying to protect yourself from something negative. That’s why we say “We won the big account!” but also “The big account was lost.” Active phrase forces you to claim responsibility for a statement - whether it’s good or bad.
Take responsibility. Use active verbs.
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Great Founders Write: Principles for Clear Thinking, Confident Writing, and Startup Success.
What do you think of this shortened version of my newsletter? Tell me in the comments or give this post a 🖤
If you REALLY liked it, send it to a leader in your life who would benefit from hearing this message. Tell them Ben told you to do it. Let’s banish passive verbs once and for all!