OPINION: I'll try to make a point

·3 min read

Feb. 20—Throughout the history of words, it's the four-letter variety that has gotten children in trouble and caused the prim and proper to gasp.

They also put George Carlin solidly on the map as a comedian with his bit, "The seven words you can't say on TV."

But there is a word — with one less letter — which should be avoided at all costs, by adults and young'uns alike.


I would imagine that each and every one of us has used that word on a regular basis during our lifetime.

"Son, I expect you to buckle down and bring that grade up."

"I promise I'll really try, Dad."

Or ...

"Listen, you just have to take your time and make sure you cut the grass in a straight line."

"I'll try."

Or ...

"This is an important project, so I expect you to get it done."

"I'll try, boss."

Or ...

"It's not that difficult to put those dirty clothes in the laundry basket."

"You're right, and I will try."

Or ...

"Do not speed through a school zone or I will write a ticket."

"Yes sir, I will try."

Sounds innocent enough, right? The problem with that word is that it's negative.

You heard me. It's pure negative.

"Try" leaves the door open for failure. You're not saying you will get it done, you're saying you will TRY to — that it's a possibility; that perhaps it will be accomplished; that there is some wiggle room for NOT doing what you claim you will try to do.

Like most of you, I'm sure that I have used the word "try" many times over without thinking about what it actually means. Officially, most dictionaries will define the word "try" as: make an attempt or effort to do something.

That might sound like there will be some kind of action, but certainly doesn't give the impression the action will be successful.

So if we are going to avoid the word "try" — or at least TRY to avoid the word "try" — what could possibly take its place?

First, we must decide whether the word "try" is exactly what we want to portray ... the illusion that a request will get our best effort but leaves just enough question that it might not be.

If we would rather give a request, especially from an authority figure, a more positive response, there might be a few choices.

"I'm on it."

"I absolutely will."

"This will get my full attention."

"I'm all over this."

None of these responses claim the request will get done successfully or within a specific time-frame, but they certainly give the requester the sense that it will be taken seriously and given a priority.

Let's emphasize once again. Those who fail to achieve goals almost always signal their intent to fail by using this one, three-letter word: try.

There is no other word in the English language that is more deceptive, both to the person who says them and the person who hears them. People who say "I will try" have given themselves permission to fail. No matter what happens, they can always claim that they "tried."

There are fortune cookies stuffed with a strip of paper claiming Confucius supposedly said, "Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'" In this case, at least, he is correct.

So let's begin a movement to banish the word "try" from our collective vocabulary. Can you do that?

For me, I will do my best.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-506-3023 or [email protected]