If there was one word you could eliminate from your vocabulary that would dramatically improve productivity and engagement, would you eliminate it?

I would hope so.

should does not serve youHere’s the word: Should.

  • I should have known that.
  • I should have done something differently.
  • They should have treated the situation differently.
  • They should be acting differently.

None of these thoughts serve you, and they all focus around this word that is not that useful (at least not very useful in this context).

There are videos online to teach you how to use this word in a variety of personal and professional settings, but honestly, they’re probably not that useful for leaders.

  • As a leader, you want your team to know they can count on you, not feel belittled or judged for the decisions they’ve made in the past or will make in the future.
  • As an individual, you will have more authority when you feel better about yourself and the decisions you’ve made in the past, as well as those you’ll make in the future.

So if you are no longer going to be using this word, then what can you do instead to have a way of thinking that will be more useful?

2 simple questions

  • What do I need?
  • What do they need?

If you find yourself “should-ing” in a situation, you have the ability to alter the interaction simply by changing your language.

Getting Should Out Of Your Language

  • “I should have known that” becomes “What did I need, that I didn’t have, and how can I get it?”
  • “I s – – – – d have done differently” becomes “What do I need to do differently next time?”
  • “They should have treated the situation differently” becomes “What did they need, in order to treat the situation differently?”
  • “They s – – – – d be acting differently” becomes “What do they need (to know, experience, learn, etc.) in order to act differently?”

Turning the “should” into a proactive question of need creates an actionable and meaningful path toward improvement, a path which will lead to significantly increased productivity and engagement from your team.

As an added bonus, asking yourself what you need, and following through on getting what you need, helps to boost your own capability as well as self-esteem.

You get all of these benefits, simply by making a conscious decision to eliminate a word from your daily communication, changing it to something that serves you and your team in more useful ways.

Here’s to your greatness,

Misti Burmeister

Misti Burmeister has been helping leaders have difficult conversations for more than 15 years, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Help your team reach its highest potential at https://MistiBurmeister.com