I Have A Chronic Should- er Problem. It’s not physical.

Rod Aparicio
2 min readAug 8, 2022

“You SHOULD [do whatever].”

You’re in the business of giving advice. You have expertise, provide recommendations or consult. What’s the natural way to say how to proceed?


  • Looking for ways to be more profitable? You should do this.
  • Looking for ways to be more efficient? You should do this.
  • Looking for hacks? You should do this.

What you’re really saying is:

“I know better, you stupid.”

You Should Do This

Here. I don’t know about your specific situation (and don’t care), but I’m giving you big, free and MY advice.

It’s talking down on others and ignoring the context into each situation. If it’s not exactly the way you want it (or imagined), it’s not your responsibility. It’s manipulative and enforces guilt.

“You should [do like big cos do]” — if you don’t have a budget or resources… well, that’s your problem.

Rochelle Moulton and Jonathan Stark’s insights on this are gold:

It implies judgement. (RM)

It implies my way is the only way or the only “right” way.(RM)

“Should” can make people feel very guilty…as in “I should go work out instead of eating this giant chunk of chocolate”. (RM)

It’s almost always used in a very presumptuous way. (JS)

Why Are We Should-ers?

  • To provide a POV?
  • A perspective?
  • A call to action?
  • A position?
  • A recommendation?
  • To sound polite?
  • To “educate”?

A Different Way

Most of us mean well. Maybe we don’t have the vocabulary to put our thoughts in a better way than “should”.

To really help the ones we serve — and avoid pushing things down their throats and/or disempower them — we only need to change ONE word: COULD.

It’s about giving options. About giving others full agency on their decisions. On our side: providing the information and the ways to choose. It’s on them to choose a path. That’s the only way for them to rise and learn. Unless you want them to be dependent on you all the times.

New Ways To Frame Advice

We can find other ways to give our advice and take that feel of judgement out. Instead of using “should”, we could try:

  • Here’s what I found and how you could use it.
  • Here’s a How To…
  • Here’s an approach to…
  • These are the patterns I’ve seen.
  • A how to guide for you to use…
  • Use this in case…

You SO should give this a shot. 🤪

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