I Care … But not that much!
By Paul Shearstone
A simple thesaurus-search on the word ‘Care’ reveals
A quick look around the workplace, or anywhere else
for that mater, reveals a world of Mindful, Concerned, Worried,
and Bothered people. On the surface, it would appear we all care
a fair bit. Taking into account the exponential increase over
the last couple of decades in diseases like Chronic Fatigue, Depression
and stress related Emotional Burnout, the question that begs to
be answered is, Do we, as a generation, “Care Too Much?”
In a word, Yes! …The statistics on stress and the ramifications
from it are far too compelling as is the evidence we see in society
today. I, a Chronic Fatigue [CFS] Survivor, have lived it! To
overcome it, I also had to learn from it. For example, the new –
albeit subtle – way, in which I Care.
In his best selling book, “You can Negotiate Anything!” Herb
Cohen espoused that to appear too concerned during any negotiation,
was to put one’s self at a disadvantage. Simply put, if the
guy knows you really, really, want it, he then know you’ll
a premium for it. To prevent this, Herb suggests we say to our
self before any negotiation, “I care… But not that
His strategy is simple. To appear aloof – caring just enough
but not too much – we maintain a position of strength. The
news is, it works. On closer inspection, however, we can learn
a great deal more from Cohen’s stratagem. The most important
the use of the Mantra, I care but not that much, as a ‘Behavioral
A behavioral trigger is a tool used by people to instantly modify
their conduct, attitude or actions. Many parents teach a form
of behavioral triggering to their kids at a very young age. Counting
to three can give the child who is acting-out in a negative way,
enough time to reevaluate his/her behavior and make the necessary
changes to avoid parental retribution. Most of us are taught the
technique of counting to ten to calm one’s self in a moment
tension. The majority would agree, both counting-strategies work
well in the right circumstances.
What, though, has that to do with caring or the lack thereof?
The fact is, most people genuinely care about their jobs and
want to do their best at most everything they do. Another fact
is my observation that there are only two types of people these
days: The Un-Employed and the Over-Employed. A quick look at any
corporate or medical environment clearly demonstrates everybody –
absolutely EVERYBODY – is pushed to the max, regardless of
standing or vocation and, as a matter of course, are forced to
perform under stressful pressure and responsibilities unlike any
generation before. It’s just a byproduct of the times. Another
byproduct of our times is, as already alluded, the devastating
price we pay in stress-related and emotionally damaging consequences.
The reason for this is not all that mysterious. Prolonged exposure
to stress will eventually break down even the best of us. The
human body can work under pressure for periods of time but not
continuously. Stress will eventually emerge the winner, making
us the loser.
What then, can we do to combat this if the reality is; our jobs
and responsibilities are not likely to get any less stressful?
The answer is, we need to:
- Become more acutely aware of the times we find
ourselves under the most stress, and
- Learn how to pull back – Diminish the stress.
How can this be done? One way is by learning to use a Behavioral
In the recent movie, “Meet the Fockers”, Robert Dinero’s
character used the word Muskrat, any time his blood pressure was
about to blow. The mere mention of the word by him or his wife
would immediately trigger a ‘stand-down’ or ‘relax’ response.
The important lesson here is how the word Muskrat was utilized
as a tool or a trigger resulting in an abrupt positive attitudinal
reflex. A letting go, if you will, of the stresses that fill the
moment allowing calm to reestablish itself. This procedure is
a learned technique and must be practiced for best results.
The word Muskrat is not the only word to choose from, however,
which brings us back to how Herb Cohen’s mantra, I care… But
that much!, works so well in stressful circumstances.
Note that Herb is not for one moment, suggesting he doesn’t
In fact, he does care. Here, however, is the subtle but powerful
lesson we need to learn from the last part of his statement ‘But
not that much!’
To make the point more clear, allow me to finish his sentence:
I care… But not that much…“To let it Hurt Me!”
People need to understand that self-preservation is a good thing.
Doing a great job or being the best we can be, is also a good
thing – but not if the price we pay is our health, happiness
long-term quality of life. That is too high a price to shell out.
In the same way we are taught the skills necessary to do our
jobs well and maintain our dedication to responsibilities, we
must also learn how to manage ourselves under prolonged pressure
such that our health and happiness are maintained.
To get into the habit of saying, I care, but not that much, when
we experience stress or unrest, we learn how to trigger the proper,
life-balancing response that does diminish the problem.
Often, people use more than one mantra to achieve the desired
results. For example, Bobby McFerrin’s song, Don’t
Worry… Be Happy!
Those words are an excellent follow up to Cohen’s I care….
not that much!
In a world where today, stress and pressure are systemic, people
have a life-sustaining obligation to better understand how and
what circumstances serve to denigrate their health and well being.
They owe it to themselves to learn the benefits of techniques
like Behavioral Triggering. The best way might be to Care… But
not that much! •
© 2005 Paul Shearstone
About the Author
Paul Shearstone aka The ‘Pragmatic Persuasionist’ is
one of North
America’s foremost experts on Sales and Persuasion. He is
founder and President of The CFIDS Foundation of Cda Inc [A registered
Charity]. As an International Keynote Speaker, Author, Writer
Motivator, Corporate Ethics, / Time & Stress Management / Life
Balance, Paul enlightens and challenges audiences as he informs,
motivates and entertains. To comment on this article or to book
the Pragmatic Persuasionist for your next successful event we
invite to contact Paul Shearstone directly @ 416-728-5556 or 1-866-855-4590
www.success150.com or firstname.lastname@example.org www.paulshearstone.ca.