You can 'try' or you can 'do'
If you're going to do it you'll say "Yes, I'll do it!"
If you don't want to commit yourself, or you want to give yourself wriggle room, you'll say "Okay, I'll try and do it..."
Take this common situation...
You have a chance meeting with a former acquaintance. You chat a little awkwardly about what's been happening in the years since you last met and, as you are about to go your separate ways one person says “We must try and get together for a proper chat" (i.e. you're hoping it'll never happen).
Or you ask someone to do you a favour and they reply “OK, I'll try and get that done” (i.e. don't hold your breath - it's not going to get done.)
When we use 'try'
In NLP we pay a lot of attention to what's behind or beneath words and phrases i.e. what is being conveyed by the word or phrase, intentionally or otherwise. Richard Bandler, one of the founders of NLP, remarked "language is our middle name" i.e. Neuro Linguistic Programming.
For example, if I were to ask you “Try and touch the tip of your nose with your index finger” it's likely that you'd find this a strange request, providing you were not in some way disabled. It's easy to do it, there's no chance of failure, so why am I using “try”?
However it would be different if I asked you to “Try and touch the ceiling with your elbow” because here the words 'try' does fit - since there is no certainty that you can touch the ceiling – most ceilings are too high.
What can we conclude from these examples? That we only use the word TRY when we expect or assume failure!
“We must try and get together sometime” means something along the lines “I thought I'd got rid of you - now I do hope I'll never see you again!”
“I'll try and get that done” means “I'm not going to tell you I cannot or won't do it – but don't hold your breath!”
But it's only a figure of speech
Perhaps. But, as we explore in NLP, figures of speech often give strong clues as to what is going on beneath the surface. They can be a form of leakage from the underlying emotions. Especially if you listen to them carefully and take them literally.
Words like 'try' indicate what we are really thinking – and, perhaps, do not want to admit even to ourselves.
The words you use sub-vocally in your self talk affect your mood. And the words you use aloud affect both my your own and other people's moods.
“Try” creates doubt – in your own mind and in the minds of others - and suggests that it is unlikely that you will succeed.
Replace 'try' with 'will'
Us it for a while and decide for yourself if it makes a difference to how you feel and to how people respond to you.
“I must try and start exercising”
“I will try to give up smoking”
“I will try to eat more healthily”
“I will try to be nicer to people”
use “I will begin ..........etc.”
What if I'm not sure that I'll succeed?
That's OK. You don't have to be sure you'll succeed before beginning something. It's okay to have a go and not succeed.
'Try' is often a way of insuring ourselves against the bad feelings we associate with failure… “After all, I didn't say I would do it - I just said I'd try!'
Make a decision that it is OK to not get everything right every time and you'll feel a lot better saying “I will…”
The other side of this 'try' coin is that if you do not say “I will…” you're not fully committed to it.Maybe you don't really want to do it. Maybe it's a bit daunting and you don't really believe you can.
Either way you're giving yourself a get-out clause – just in case.
Commit – fully
Commit fully – or don't bother. If you don't commit fully you're probably kidding yourself - or seeking to kid someone else.
You're pretending to yourself that you are going to give something your best shot whereas in fact you are going into it prepared to fail and with your failure alibi ready in advance.
When you commit fully you are arming yourself with a belief that you will succeed – do this and you're half-way there before you even begin.
The Pegasus NLP Newsletter
The above article was originally in our monthly newsletter. It's published every 2-4 weeks and is free.
And there will be no spam - I promise. You have trusted me with your email address I will use it for the Newsletter and for nothing else - and it will never be shared with anyone else. Ever.