what does the word SHOULD mean to you?

I make it a practice to never give unsolicited advice. I think that’s a great policy to have, especially with friends that like to discuss ongoing or new events taking place in their lives. I also try not to use the word should if I do give out advice, because that word means something different to me than it means to most people.

To me, the word should is akin to the word control.  

The dictionary defines should as must; ought (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency): You should not do that.

Think about the times you’ve heard the word used in conversations and try to imagine what the real message is behind it. Is that person giving you a command? Are they demanding you change your behavior?

You should!


You should not!

Anyway you slice it, to me the word should always makes me grit my teeth whenever someone is advising me on how to behave. It reeks of a superiority complex, almost as if the person speaking thinks they have it all figured out and know the secret.

Instead of being provocative in prose, perhaps using something a bit more gentle like “You might try…” could win you more points and actually get the person to actively listen to your advice. I know that would definitely work for me.

What does the word should mean to you?

About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to what does the word SHOULD mean to you?

  1. Thanks for the ping! I am enjoying your blog.


  2. You nailed it Madeline! That is exactly how I feel about that word!


  3. cindy knoke says:

    it means shouldn’t


  4. kalabalu says:

    Should means..if you could you would ..if you think its right ..you might


  5. I try to never say should just like I try to never use the word never. As in; you never take the garbage out, or touch should take the garbage out. If someone says “I should take the garbage out” it usually means they know they should but have no intention of doing it.”
    Thanks for stopping by my site. See you again.


  6. Marshall Rosenberg talks about the dangers of the word “should” in his book Nonviolent Communication. Good stuff.


  7. Angie Carter says:

    i agree…. Its a never ending word to me. Like the word “why”. Should, has been used all my life(against me) and all around me and my family. ‘would and could of” too. all about control. There is one thing that I have learned is to always speak of ‘my’ experience, strength and hope”. I like that you say, ” you might try”. or say “next time”. The word “sorry” is another word I try to keep from saying if its used randomly …used to all the time and it brings me down. my mom and another friend whom I’m around states they are ‘sorry’ all the time, its a sign they are or have been abused Love your blog katy. ty



  8. Lesley Dawson says:

    I have a strong dislike for the word, ‘should’. To me, it signifies control, preventing someone from being able to use their own free choice, intimidation, blighting someone’s self-esteem, etc. I try not to use that word if I can help it.

    Good post!


  9. I used to ‘should’ all over myself but realized I was doing what others wanted and not what I wanted. It was a difficult habit to break and I still struggle from time to time – but I refuse to live a life where ‘shouding’ all over myself is a part of each day.


  10. bbutler627 says:

    You SHOULD know that you were my first ever comment on my blog and I SHOULD have read this ping sooner. I know my “shoulds” wholeheartedly and feel I can use them with your blessing here. I love the sincerity of your assessment of this slightly off-putting word. The words we use in our rapport with others are a direct insight into who we are! Thank you, Madeline. You should know I’m flattered and also following now.


  11. Joyce says:

    I HATE this word with a passion! I hear it all the time, along with many other invalidating words. Each time you hear them, it damages your self-esteem a little more. Then they wonder why you feel the way you do. Then they invalidate you for feeling bad for them invalidating you!


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