Stop “Should”ing On Me

It’s amazing how one word can make such a big difference.

Take the word “should” for example.

How often do you hear, “You should have…”, “I shouldn’t have to …”, We shouldn’t have to…” and “They should have…”.

In every case, the message is always the same. Whenever we use the word “should”, we’ve given ourselves permission to judge the person, the situation or the action.

Whenever we use “should”, we run the risk of people misinterpreting our intent.

And, that’s why we mustn’t be surprised when people react negatively to the word “should” because to them it sounds like we’ve given ourselves permission to do something we might not have permission to do – which is to make them wrong.

Here’s why.

When we use the word “should”, it suggests that there was a better way of dealing with the situation and the other person “should” have known this.

It’s judgmental. So, don’t be surprised if people become defensive if you use the word “should”.

They will think you are “should”ing on them. And, from time to time all of us do this if we’re not careful.

In addition, “should” focuses on the past and, as a result, when we hear this word, we can only ever be reactive because the word “should” suggests it’s already happened.

So, if you can’t use the word “should”, what can you do? Here’s a viable and better alternative.

The word “could”.

It’s less judgmental, it implies options , it focuses on the future and gives us the opportunity to be proactive if we want.

This increases the chances of people not misinterpreting our intent which usually leads to more effective communication.

So, next time you want to say that someone “should” do something, perhaps you could substitute the word “could” and stop “should”ing on them.