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No ShouldsShould’ve, would’ve, could’ve… they all share the same connotation, and it’s not good.

It’s amazing how often the language we use and the meaning and emotion behind that language can hold us back in our day to day.

Case in point… during a recent coaching conversation a client shared some work challenges he was experiencing; he was frustrated about what was and was not being accomplished.

 What I noticed in listening to him, is that he shared over and over that his team was actually delivering on their objectives – they were getting the work done, just not in the way that he wanted them to.

I asked what the real challenge was since the work was being completed.

“They should be doing it this way instead,” he said.

“Well, it sounds like ‘should’ is a losing proposition for you,” I replied.

I could sense his posture shift through the phone, and after a longer than usual pause, he asked what I meant.

In a study reported on by Psychology Today, “eliminating shoulds toward yourself enables you to stay personally empowered. Eliminating shoulds directed toward others blocks the inappropriate sense of entitlement that provokes anger both within you and between you and others.”

Self-help pioneer Louise Hay agrees. She suggests removing the word “should” from your vocabulary. “Should is a word that makes a prisoner of me and or the other person. Every time I say should, I am making myself wrong, or I am making someone else wrong. I am, in effect, saying I am not good enough.”

By saying, “should”, we either were wrong, we are wrong, or we are going to be wrong.

Past, present, or future, that’s a whole lot of wrong. A seemingly simple word that can keep us stuck in a negative mindset.


There are many expressions that we use every day, that don’t do us any good. Remove them from your vocabulary, and remove some unnecessary negativity.