“Should” is an Opinion

Recently I have been on both sides of these kinds of statements: “You should do this…” “You should have asked me.” “It should have looked like this…”  “You know what you should do?” “You should do it over…”

This 6-letter word was on auto-repeat in my head and in my conversations. It felt so blatantly shaming, demanding, and self-centered that I actually looked up the definition to get clear about what was bugging me. Of all the explanations, what hit me most viscerally was the fact that although this word morphs through every variation of what is “proper, reasonable, the best thing to do, expected, correct, believed or thought to be true” – it never defines who by whom!

“Should” is one person’s opinion.

Think about it. And really double-think it when you elect to put this word in your vocabulary. How do you know what is right or true or most authentic for someone else?

I recognized that the word “should” defines a key difference between the work of a consultant and a coach. I have been both. As a consultant I have been engaged to clearly articulate my thoughts, ideas and opinions on programs and events. My suggestions – my words – carried weight and were often considered in making key decisions. And, in my coaching practice I strive to encourage my clients to listen to their own wisdom, to trust their own experiences and intuition. There is a big difference in the approach and the result. I began to realize that this one word had potential to suffocate whatever new opportunity might emerge in my work and that by dissolving my attachment to everyone else’s opinion, I had the potential to set myself free. In making that shift of perspective, my heart took flight.

I invite you consider the power of this one little word in your daily life; listen for it in what you hear and what you say. And consider what might be possible if you were to suspend the belief of knowing what is best, to let what wants to emerge come to life. It might be a beautiful thing!


Would you? Could you? Should you? What’s the difference?