The executive in charge of your conscious mind has to go to lunch sometimes, or may otherwise be occupied. Review the following quote and you may begin to wonder if the CEO of this speakers conscious mind hadnt taken a weeks holiday:

I put everything on the line for this chance to show what I was really made of: my reputation, my job, my house, my financial future, the kids welfare, the man Ive have been married to for fifteen years

Here, the speakers unconscious leakage turns into a torrent. Adopt the position of the man married to the speaker for the past fifteen years. How do you imagine you would respond to this wonderful tale of womanly courage? Would you be inspired to spend the next fifteen years with her, or would fifteen minutes be about as much as you could take?

We may not articulate our priorities exactly in the order embraced at the deeper unconscious level, but in the above example the extremes are so clearly delineated that its patently obvious the speaker would rarely, if ever, put her family first. Adding insult to injury, the speaker unconsciously leaked her emotional distance from her husband. My as you know implies closeness. The combination of turning her children into the kids, her husband into the man, and the passive language that follows is a certain indication of negligent parenting and a dead marriage.

Be careful in listing priorities. There are times in public and vocational life where you will need to understand and embrace the priorities of your stakeholders and colleagues.


Theres an old saying that goes, If you only try, youll only fail. Because the phrase only try is so embedded in our linguistic culture, the author probably added the second only to the statement in order to drive home the point being made. Only is a word that minimises or discounts the meaning of the words or ideas that follow it. In the case of only fail the language instructs the listener to view failure as trivial or inconsequential.

The words merely and just also devalue the words and ideas that follow them in many contexts. I was merely saying what I thought reveals an attempt to minimise either guilt or responsibility and in some cases to transfer blame.

The word try is code for expectation of failure. This word enjoys such ubiquitous usage that few listeners would ever interpret it at the deeper unconscious level to mean anything other than a signal of impending disappointment or lack of success. Put try and just, only, or merely together and you send a potent signal to listeners of dubious motives and doubtful resolve.

Linguistically deconstructed, the statement I was only trying to help. reads as follows:

only = attempt to minimise, trivialise, or discount involvement.

trying = lack of commitment, little expectation of success, or lack of real intention to assist in the resolution of the issue or problem.

Review the following quotes and intuit their real meaning.

Were merely trying to create a level playing field.

What were trying to do is balance the interests of the timber industry with those of the environmental lobby.

I can only put your proposal to cabinet and test its reaction.

We are trying to resolve a difficult situation

You may have intuited deeper meanings similar to the following:

"We are covering up our callous disregard for the human misery caused by our policies by presenting a level playing field as self-evident imperative."

"We know we dont have a hope in hell of achieving an equitable balance of interests but we have to be seen to be making an attempt. "

"I am not committed to helping you but will go through the motions. "

"We have little confidence in our ability and are softening you all up for an inevitable disappointment."

Notice how frequently public figures use words like try and only and begin to appreciate at a deeper level how you get a sense or feeling of a lack of commitment to what theyre saying. Its amazing, isnt it, that seemingly intelligent beings cant imagine that you sense when theyre wriggling out of making clear promises and assurances or setting you up for a lack of success down the track.

Charismatic communicators understand that pretending to commit to something helps whittle away the credulity quotient of their listeners. The key to maintaining your audiences credulity quotient in contexts such as the above is to make clear statements about what you can and will do:

In place of try, say what will specifically do.

list the things you will do in sequence

consider telling people how you will do it

alert people to possible difficulties

assess the likelihood of success

rather than make every effort, say what the effort will be

Commitment is a key factor in the attribution of charismatic qualities. In becoming a person who does much more than try you will begin to earn a reputation as someone who is trustworthy and whom can be relied upon to give clear, unequivocal assurances that people can act on.

(c) Desmond Guilfoyle 2004 2006

About the author:

Desmond Guilfoyle in an award winning commentator on influence, persuasion and charisma. He has written three books on those subjects and his book 'The Charisma Effect' has been published in seven languages around the globe. He can be contacted at mondodec@tpg.com.au For further articles, tips and information visit his blog at http://charismacom.blogspot.com

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