The dictionary.com definition of the word ‘try’ is: to attempt to do or accomplish. The definition also involves testing an effect or evaluating an experiment.
The word try is actually a verb, which means it is an action – not just an intention.
What the dictionary definition of the word try does not include are all the underlying meanings that often are present when you use the phrase ‘I’ll try’ in response to someone offering a suggestion or opportunity to you.
When I hear ‘I’ll try’ from my clients my radar automatically goes up and I probe a bit because my guess is there’s another meaning under those words.
Here are common translations of what ‘I’ll try’ often means:
- I don’t really want to, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings so I’m not going to tell you the truth
- I think I should, but I don’t really want to – and I probably won’t
- I have absolutely no intention of doing that, but I’m not going to say so
- I’d like to, but I’m scared shitless
- I might give it a whirl, if it fits into my busy schedule, but it’s not really a priority
- I would like to do that, but I’m not going to make a commitment
How often do you use the response ‘I’ll try’ and it means one of the above translations or something different?
When you say ‘I’ll try’, you are giving the impression that you will make some effort towards something. If that is not your truth at the moment, or you feel a barrier, then why not simply say so?
- No thanks. That’s not really right for me
- I’m not quite ready to attempt that yet
- I’d like to, but I’m scared
- That might be true, but I’m not really interested right now
There’s nothing wrong with saying those instead!
Conduct your own experiment. Keep track of how often you use the word ‘try’. Are you using it to shroud your real feelings or intentions? If so, what could you replace ‘try’ with?