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Should is an awful word

A red stop sign that is modified to say "You should really STOP"

You should brush your teeth more.

You should exercise more.

You should pay your electrical bill.

Wait a sec. Those are all normal “should” but the electrical one isn’t. Why? Oh, that’s right. They don’t say should. They say “pay your bill or your power gets shut off.” It’s not pretty. But which of those three sentences gets results nearly EVERY time?

Should is an awful word because it’s already resigned to the reality of the situation. Should knows you don’t want to do it. That’s why it’s saying “should” – otherwise it would say “I’m pleased that you’re going to be brushing your teeth every day.”

Should knows that you have choices, and by leading with an acknowledgment that you probably aren’t planning to do it, it validates your (unwise) decision.

Dentists use should. Dentists stay gainfully employed knowing that you won’t floss, brush, etc.ER surgeons use “we’re operating now” – not “please carefully sign the release form and we all think you really should have this operation” – they cut (literally) to the chase. Something compelling about “you will die unless you have this operation.”

Should causes deafness. “You should….” and you stop listening.

“If you don’t” cures deafness. “If you don’t do this _____, this will happen: ________”

Do you want something to happen? Avoid should. Try “need to” or “need to, and here’s why”

You should retweet this or post it on your social media sites.

ARGH. What bad habits we develop!


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