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Active and Passive Voice: Actively Accentuate the Positive, Passively Eliminate the Negative

By Bigg Success Staff
04-24-08

Career Builders

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You will advance faster in your career if you communicate effectively. One part of that is to know when to use your “active” voice and when to use a “passive” one.

It sounds boring, but you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes!

When you use your active voice, the subject of the sentence appears before the action. Stated simpler, the noun occurs before the verb. For example:

You performed exceptionally well on this project.

With passive voice, the action appears in the sentence before the subject, if the subject appears at all. The verb comes first, the noun comes later. An example:

This project was done exceptionally well by you.

Note that the first example is more direct and easier to follow than the second. It sounds better, doesn’t it?

Accentuate the positives with your active voice
More importantly, wouldn’t you feel better if you were told that “you performed exceptionally well”?

The focus is on “you”, not the “project”.

So when you want to tell someone that they did something great, use your active voice. Put them first in your sentences. You’ll feel great because you’ll make them feel great!

Eliminate the negatives with a passive voice

You will find, though, that the passive voice is also useful. For example, which of the following two sentences would you rather hear?

You performed below expectations on this project.

Expectations weren’t met on this project.

The second example sounds better on this go-around, doesn’t it? Can you picture yourself getting defensive with the first sentence? Probably so.

So when you want to discuss anything negative, use your passive voice. You’ll find that your conversation is much more productive!

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