I don't usually blog articles that aren't by journalists but Brad Hoover, CEO Grammarly, had a guest post on Fortune.com this afternoon that was so true - and something I've been guilty of- that I am forced to act.
The article is about why the word "try" is poison to managers and why it should be banished from our vocabulary.
If you contact a company and request action on an issue, hearing "I'll try" isn't going to alleviate your frustration; as a matter of fact, it's more likely to exacerbate the problem. Likewise, when I hear employees say they will "try to meet a deadline," "try to close a deal," or "try to handle a customer issue," my next question is what we need to do to ensure their success. When asked to complete a task that you do not feel is realistic, it's better to suggest a more feasible goal. Managers appreciate problem solvers and employees who come to the table with solutions rather than problems.
PR people by nature level set, manage expections, add context and many other verbal actions to make it clear to clients that we can't always deliver everything they ask for. That said, being straightforward about the validity and attainability of objectives doesn't mean you have to sound like a weasel.
"Your story is kind of weak but we'll try to get it placed anyway," is a horrible way to set expectations. "Reporters and editors want to see a higher market cap or more specific information about your current revenue and projections before they will take a meeting, what else about your story can we discuss to make you relevant?" is much better.
My personal policy - for better or worse - has always been to provide the straight answer of whether or not a specific strategy will work to achieve an objective and wait to be over-ruled. Key to surviving with this management strategy is always to have a suggestion for what will work to achieve an objective, otherwise you sound lke the guy who just complains all the time.
When you're in that unfortunate situation where someone else is calling the shots and you have to, well, try to do something that doesn't make a lot of sense, the word can slip in. Fight the urge.