Synonym showdown: Which word works best?

Six sets of synonymous terms to consider closely the next time you whip up some written communication.

“We fired the manager.”

“We terminated the manager.”

“We dismissed the manager.”

Which one’s best? It’s all in the eye of the beholder, of course, but it’s undeniable that those three sentences, all of which say essentially the same thing, convey very different messages. Those messages will resonate with some, alienate others, and possibly anger a few, particularly if the subject matter is something as volatile as job losses.

With that in mind, here are six sets of synonymous terms to consider.

Fire vs. terminate vs. dismiss

“Terminate” is awfully cold. After all, in popular culture the word is most closely associated with a murderous cyborg played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. That’s the reason human resources departments so often use it. It gives them a little distance from the actual people whose employment is ending. That’s not a great practice for communications, though.

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