6 Verb Swaps That Will Increase Your Impact

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Make sure the words you say are the words you mean.

Leaders want their teams to overcome challenges, respond to threats, and create impact. But sometimes, their chosen verbs convey an impression that falls noticeably short of that intention and–as a result–fails to inspire.

The following verbs are often used interchangeably, but they shouldn’t be. One takes a weaker stance, while the other reflects the most accurate and impressive effort.

Whether you’re writing or speaking, keep an eye out for these tiny semantic saboteurs. The first verb is what you probably mean; the second verb is what you likely say:

1. Enable vs. Allow

If your action produced a result, you enabled it. If you only removed an obstacle, you merely allowed it.

“Moving to a cloud-based system will allow/enable us to create, file, and share documents more efficiently.”

2. Prevent vs. Avoid

If your action stopped something disastrous from happening, you prevented it. If you just moved something out of peril’s way or put off that peril, you merely avoided it.

“We must act decisively to prevent/avoid another security crisis.”

3. Respond vs. React

If a situation spurred you to action, you responded. If the issue only triggered an emotion, you merely reacted.

“We responded/reacted immediately to the power outage.”

4. Overcome vs. Address

If you successfully conquered an obstacle, you overcame it. If you only encountered the obstacle or just stood your ground, you merely addressed it.

“We addressed/overcame the many challenges to launching this campaign.”

5. Propose vs. Share

If you’re making an important point, you are proposing the idea. If you’re simply throwing out facts and letting the audience decide what to do with them, you are merely sharing the idea.

“I’m proposing/sharing a new approach that will make our customer service operations more effective.”

6. Accomplish vs. Meet (a Goal)

If you accomplish a goal, you imply that you achieved that objective as a direct result of your effort. If you merely meet a goal, you only indicate that you touched the milestone–possibly by accident, circumstance, or gravity.

“I’m thrilled that we met/accomplished our most ambitious goals for the year.