We might consider deleting the word should
from our vocabulary… or at least limiting it. Notice I didn’t say “You should stop using the word SHOULD.”
Let’s look at how using the word should
introduces a couple of serious problems.
When we use SHOULD we insinuate an obligation - you MUST do it. It sounds like they don’t have a choice. It feels controlling and dominating.
It introduces CONTROL - we dominate someone (or attempt to dominate them) when we say they SHOULD do this or that.
It can be seen as a “shaming tool” or a command. See the drinking example later.
You should have thought about this beforehand. If you’re talking about the past, by saying “you should have…” it doesn’t give the other person many options.
Reading a book - skimming actually - called Complete Guide to Boundaries
by Dr Henry Cloud & Dr John Townsend.
The authors have some suggestions:Not so good
: You should have called me and told me you were going to be late. Now you have ruined the whole night for me. Etc.Better
: It would have really helped me if you had called when…Not so good
: You should get up early, read the paper about new jobs and…Better
: Things would go better if you made some changes. You would have more success , I think, by getting an early start….
I believe it’s good to also express how you feel… I would really appreciate it if you had time to do the tallying before I arrived. I would feel a lot happier if the dining room table was kept clear when we’re having visitors (that’s what Fay says to me!)Not so good
: You shouldn’t be drinking so much. You should focus more on me and the family.Better
: I am concerned about your drinking. It is becoming a problem, and we miss you. When you drink the kids and I lose you, and we don’t want that.
Here’s a bit more I liked:
“Good relationships preserve someone’s dignity, choice, freedom and equality as a persobn. When someone is confronted well, in the context of a caring relationship , he feels as if he is being helped, not caught or controlled. Watch your use of SHOULD to make sure that it is being heard correctly, as helpful. If it is used or heard as punitive, condemning or controlling, you might (I’m not gonna say you should) want to find another word.”
Wow! I don’t normally carry on like that but I was reading the book… I mean skimming the book and thought… would like to share that with some folks. Hope somebody has been helped… just a smidgen!
By the way, the book has 264 pages and costs $9.95! A steal! Complete Guide to Boundaries
by Dr Henry Cloud & Dr John Townsend. Did I say you should read it? No. Not exactly.
Gee that's cheap!