You Must Never Tell People “Should”

One of the things I’ve learned in being married to my wonderful wife Rachel for more than 6 years is that you should must avoid telling someone else how they “should” feel. Or what they “should” do. It’s just not an effective communication strategy in a relationship, and it almost always generates negative feelings in the other person.

I’ve come to realize that this doesn’t just apply to marriage and relationships, though. It’s pretty universal. Think about how you feel when someone tells you that you should do something. I usually feel guilty, resentful, rebellious, worthless, and generally bad. I feel like that person doesn’t think I know that I should do whatever it is already, and doesn’t have any confidence that I would do it if I weren’t told. Not always, but a lot.

So what should can you say instead of should? How about “can”, or “could”, or “what if you”? Something positive, something that opens a door, or offers encouragement.

I’ve decided that I want to focus more on showing people what’s possible, what they could do, instead of telling people what they “should” do. Open doors. Reveal possibilities. Invite. Lead.

What could change in your life and relationships with other people if you replaced a “should” statement with something else? Try it today, and find out! :-)