How to “Respond” — Appropriately

Illustration of a doodle saying "wh–what are you doing?!" as another doodle with a backpack, a camera, mismatched shoes, a top hat and an emergency light on its head, holding a toilet plunger, runs off while saying "RESPONDING!"

It’s time for another installment of our unofficial “use simpler words” series. You remember, don’t you? (Let us jog your memories: procedure, inflammation, and monitor.)

This week’s word, “respond,” doesn’t need to be replaced or simplified so much as it needs to be clarified. Why? Well, it’s just plain vague. Does a hazmat team respond to a toxic chemical spill by singing an opera about it? Of course not — they respond by donning their hazmat suits and working to keep the public safe.

Consider these examples:

  • It will be 6 weeks before we can tell if the cancer is responding to the treatment.
  • When the hurricane hits, we will respond quickly.

C’mon… we can be clearer than that, dear readers! Try these on for size instead:

  • It will be 6 weeks before we can tell if the treatment is shrinking the tumor.
  • When the hurricane hits, we will act quickly to keep people safe and help anyone who’s hurt.

Sure, you may use a few more words, but you’ll be more specific and focused on action. And who doesn’t ❤ that?

The bottom line: Instead of using the word “respond,” say what’s actually happening.


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