Monday, June 6, 2011

Re-run: Can't vs. Won't

I hate it when I hear people tell they can't.

"Sorry, can't do it without the proper form."
"Oh, we can't do it that way."

And I hear it from people in customer service all the time.

Me: "Can you please make sure my three-day service package arrives at its destination in the three days I requested?"
Them: "Oooh, sorry. We can't."

The word "can't" necessarily applies to some situations: I can't go to the moon tomorrow. But what "can't" really means is: you won't.

That's probably why it's so irritating to hear "can't." I'm sorry to go all self-helpy on you here, but how many times have you said "I can't" or "I won't"? It's okay to say you won't, but don't pass it off as can't.

  • You can't be a published writer? Or you won't put the time into it to make it happen?
  • You can't get an agent? Or you won't take a look at what's wrong with your plot, query, letter?
  • You can't finish your book? Or you won't find the time to?
  • You can't find the motivation? Or you won't give up watching American Idol in order to?
  • You can't be a better writer? Or you won't put the time into learning how to write?

It's up to you to do what you will and won't, but personally, I try very hard not to say can't anymore.What I am really saying is I won't-- and I try not to say this, either.

Listen to the next time you hear someone say they can't do something for you. See what they're really saying.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.