top of page
  • laurasummerhayes

Break the spell of ‘Should’


It’s everywhere in marketing and business.

You should do this marketing exercise. You should do your prospecting like that. Here’s the social media platform your business should use.

What’s that about?

It’s such a negative phrase. It implies judgement and disapproval. I can hear the clipped tones of the disdainful without even closing my eyes: ‘you should comb your hair before you go out’; ‘he should do some exercise’; ‘she should pay attention’.

It smacks of idle chit chat and gossip. It carries the weight of other people’s expectation.

So why, in professional business conversations, does this word show up all the time?

I get it – to some extent. We’re consultants, advisors, preachers of best practice. We’ve been hired for this.

Is that really true though?

If our vocabulary is littered with ‘should’, what is it excluding? Perhaps it reveals less about our expertise and reveals the pressure we feel to demonstrate our value, by advising the poor hapless client to the Nth degree. Because, of course, without us to tell them, they’ve no idea what they should do…

Some ‘shoulds’ have to exist in business. And in those cases, taking heed of a qualified professional will probably make your life easier. If the fire alarm sounds, you should leave the building. You should display your employers’ liability certificate. You should allow employees to finish at 3pm on Fridays. Okay, I made the last one up!

What would happen if we were curious instead? Not just as marketers, but as professionals relating to other professionals. It completely changes the conversation. In fact, it turns a monologue into a conversation.

Take a look at your own industry

I’ve used marketing because it’s the industry I know best. What about your own sector? Is it afflicted with ‘should’?

I’m guessing it is. Even general business content – blogs, emails, webinars, the whole shebang – is plagued by it. The questions you should ask a prospect! The reasons you should do this in meetings! The reasons you should NOT go to meetings! Why meetings should be one hour, ten minutes and 58 seconds long! Why you should do this one SECRET thing that we have JUST discovered that will completely revolutionise what we currently know as “the meeting”!!! The list is endless.

That last one needed three exclamation marks. I make no apologies.

Time for a different tack?

How about we stop doing what we should, and do what’s right for us and our businesses? Wouldn’t that be novel.

Shove the shoulds. Follow your nose. Experiment. Fail. Fail even more miserably than before.

Because when you finally hit upon something that works for your business – with or without a professional guiding you – you’ll have broken the spell of ‘should’. You’ll be on the path of possibility...the path shepherded by ‘could’...

  • What could happen if we tried this?

  • What could we do to take us to that destination?

  • What heights might we reach if we could do something differently?

And that, my friends, is a path you should be proud to be on…!

How about you and your work? Are there any words, phrases or set ideas that come up time and again? Drop me a line and let me know what ‘shoulds’ are commonplace in your industry. Not that you should of course, only if it could be something you’d like to do… 😉


bottom of page