Did I just get “Should” on?
At the time, I was a young manager and working for a dynamic company with dynamic leaders. I sat around a workshop table in the office as we pondered strategies for an upcoming opportunity.
A young employee at the table said, “I’m not sure if I can do that”, referring to one of the ideas for our next steps. My response at the time started as “You should….” and immediately I was cut off by the President of our company who said to me, “Before we get into that, can you help me with something? We got up and walked down the hall towards her office.
Along the walk, she simply said, “Try not to ‘should’ on people. Nobody likes getting ‘should’ on. It’s like shitting on them.”
My response was “that makes sense to me.” We turned around when we got to her office and headed back to the brainstorm meeting. I thought to myself how appreciative I was to work for a company that valued growing and training its young leaders.
There's a lot of "should" going on.
- You should do this...
- You should think about ____
- You should consider ____
- You should try it this way
- You should make up your own mind
- You should listen to grown-ups
- You should get A’s.
- You should get A’s and B’s.
- You should try not to get C’s, D’s and F’s.
- You should always look both ways
- You should never talk to strangers
- You should hold your fork this way.
- This list goes on and on…
If I was a kid growing up in today’s world where information flows and impacts us at the pace it does, and if I was hearing all of this "shoulding", I'd probably reach a point where I'd feel like just saying... "shut the F@&# up!"
Think about the best of the best teachers, coaches, mentors, advisors and leaders you’ve had in your life.
They inspire you. They coach you. They lead you to learn. They don't “should” on you.
As humans, we don't necessarily like being told what to do all the time but we do like to live and we're open to learning. We especially enjoy learning about things that we believe will directly benefit us.
But, we live in a world where we are either selling or being sold to. As a result, there's a lot of "should" going on.
Think about all of the "should" and the messaging that hits us today.
Parents "should". Grandparents "should". Politicians "should". Friends, Bosses, Teachers, Coaches all "should" on us from time to time. Big business marketing "shoulds" on us. And... then there's social media. Lots of "shoulding".
Let’s face it. “Should” happens!
It's not easy to break the habit of “shoulding”. We all “should” on people from time to time. It’s not easy to quit. It’s been ingrained in our culture for a long time.
We need to learn to manage our "should".
If you’re getting “Should” On…
Take the time to understand your unique strengths and protect yourself with a vision. Take a moment (pause) to define what you want your world to look like in a year, five years or ten years. Define the vision and goals that you are working towards. Get yourself to a spot where you can confidently articulate these to others.
When you do this, you’ll be in a stronger position to control more of the “should” that hits you. When you share your dreams with others, you’ll in essence be shaping the type of "should" and suggestions that are directed back to you.
Keep in mind that most people want to help you achieve your dreams. They “should” on you when they feel they have useful information to help you.
If you're not getting the type of "should" that you need then protect yourself with a plan for where you want to go. Communicate your plan and then listen to the “should” that’ll help you.
If you’re not sure if the “should” hitting you is helpful or not, pause, listen and learn. You’ll have the choice later as to how you want to react to whatever “should” is thrown your way.
If you’re “Shoulding” on others…
Consider leading with questions. Consider asking questions before offering advice. Take the time to understand the unique strengths and the vision of those around you.
Before I “should” on people, I try to remind myself of these three questions:
- What is their unique strength?
- What is their vision for themselves?
- How do they define success for themselves?
When we ask questions, we learn. When we learn, we’re empowered to communicate with people the way they need to be communicated with. We’re in a stronger position to share how we might handle a situation or use it as an opportunity to demonstrate how to do something. We're in a stronger position to lead.
Time is sometimes in control.
There are indeed times that we need to tell someone what to do for their own safety.
“You ‘should’ move out of the road. Here comes a car.”
There are times when we need to discipline quickly or correct behavior quickly.
“You ‘should’ stop that right now or you’re going to jail.”
There are times when we need to "should" on someone quickly for their best interest.
“You ‘should’ order quick. They only have a few tickets left to the show.
Most of the time when we “should” on someone, we’re trying to help or teach some sort of lesson. We may be trying to share a thought or opinion. That's ok. Opinions sometimes do matter.
However, if we have the time to teach and share, then let’s do it as productively as we can. Start with understanding your audience and asking questions. Listen, learn and ask more questions. It will remove the stress of time and you'll be in a better spot to lead.
Lead with questions. Lead with Confidence. Remove the stress of time.
If you’re ready to stop “shoulding” on people.
Or… If you feel like you’re getting “should” on too much.
Choose today to be the leader in your life.
Start with picking up a copy of Transform with Confidence.