I live in a downtown condo complex that has two high-rise towers and a spectacular fountain that showcases the beauty of our property.
About eight months ago the condo board, of which I am a member, decided to change the color of the fountain from swimming-pool blue to black.
I happened to have been to be standing in the lobby of one of our buildings, speaking with our concierge, on the very day that the painters completed this task when, in a space of time spanning no more than 10 minutes three angry, distraught residents entered the lobby to loudly protest against the choice of paint color.
The first person proclaimed that “they should have left it alone.” The second informed us that “they should have painted it dark blue” and the third announced that “it should have been painted gray”.
I was reminded of this late yesterday afternoon while attending a meeting during which several people explained to several other people how they “should” have handled certain situations, what they “should have done” and what they “should do” in the future.
I have long been intrigued by people who frequently use the word “should” when recommending, suggesting, correcting, or criticizing. I am so intrigued by those folks that I visited www.dictionary.com to see what it had to say and found out that synonyms for “should” include “must” and “ought” and that the word is used to indicate what we must, or ought to do, propriety and expediency.
In other words when we are told that we should do something, we are really being told that we must do something, that we ought to do something because it is proper, and the best thing to do.
I do not question the word itself as much I do those who use it with great frequency and sprinkle it throughout many of their conversations.
I’m always tempted to challenge these folks and ask them what it is precisely that qualifies them to tell us what we must do, or what we ought to, because the suggestion that invariably accompanies the “should” is one that infers that their recommended method, process or action is better, more appropriate, or the only correct choice to make.
Whenever I am told what I should do, my inner voice immediately screams out “why should I?” This is usually followed by an even louder silent scream that yells the question “and just who the hell do you think you are telling me what I must/ought to do.”
Not too long ago I read a tongue-in-cheek article about those who feel compelled to tell others what they should do. The author described these folks as fools who have duped themselves into believing that their opinions constitute facts and they therefore feel obligated to express these “facts” to others who “should” immediately recognize their brilliance and instantly act upon them.
He concluded by saying that “should” is primarily the domain of the delusional.
While labelling these folks as fools was, in my opinion, rather harsh (he should have chosen a kinder label) I must confess that I share his frustration/amusement whenever that word is directed at me.
I long ago learned the futility of outwardly challenging those who tell me what I should do.
Asking “why should I” almost always ensures a “because” answer which, in turn, creates another “why” question followed by a “because” and this game, left unchecked, will continue well into eternity.
Perhaps a wise lesson for us all to learn is to remember to remind ourselves, when next tempted to tell someone what they should do, is to just “should up.”
You should pay attention to this.
Till we read again.
P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
– My company, Strategic Pathways, this week introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure
– I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your thoughts.
– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.
– Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.