The perils of “should”

Who would think that a single word could cause me so much anxiety?

There was a time when it didn’t bother me at all.

I could use it in a sentence and not lose sleep that night.

No longer.

The word: “should“. You know, like:

  • “That should work.”
  • “This should be a good investment.”
  • “That should make sure the server never goes down.”

As soon as you hear (or worse … say) the word “should”, be afraid. You’re treading on thin ice.

And in case you’re wondering, “shouldn’t” is just as bad. It’s just “should” with “n’t” added. Often this is the back side of “should” – the aftermath which could have been avoided, had “should” not been used in the first place.

  • staring at a computer monitor “It shouldn’t be doing that … “
  • looking at a sales chart “That product shouldn’t be tanking.”
  • as a bridge collapses … well, you get the picture.

Anytime you find yourself using the word “should”, it means there is some random chance that may sneak in there and ruin your day. It means something has been assumed rather than tested.

Almost always when you use the word “should”, you could take two seconds (or maybe two minutes) to verify what had been assumed. Then you can get rid of the word “should” and replace it with a far more powerful word: “will”.

This is why I live in constant suspicion of the word “should”, and if there is anything I have ever been sure of, it is this:

You should, too.
Related: You may as well put your money in the garbage