There are many words or phrases in English that when used can weaken your message. For the past few weeks I’ve been working with someone on a rather complicated project. Every time I ask her when she’ll be completing a deliverable, she says she’ll “try to” get it in by the date. It’s not that she doesn’t bring it in on time, but the use of that phrase frustrates me. I can’t be sure of her confidence in her abilities or her time management skills. I’ve also noted she uses the word “try” many times in non-work related conversations.
To “try” means to “make an attempt or effort” to do something, not necessarily to do it. It makes you look wishy washy, undependable and especially if you are a woman, weak. Have you ever stood up and “tried” to walk? Not since you were a toddler or had a broken leg! Why do you think Niki athletic shoes uses the slogan “Just do it”? Catchy but also powerful.
Of all the power draining phrases I can think of “I’ll try to” is the worse. I gently brought this to my partner’s attention and she was amazed that it was undermining her self-image. We agreed to play a little game and every time she used that, now banned word, I would whistle (sort of like a coach’s “time out”). She says it’s hard to break the habit but is grateful to be able to work towards creating a more powerful professional image.
So monitor yourself. If you are “trying” too often, force yourself to substitute “I will”. People will see you as determined, dependable, and someone they can count on to get the job done.