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  • Illustration depicting an aerosol can with a blame remover concept.

    Quick Tips We can stop “shoulding” on people by:

    • Changing our language – use “I” instead of “you” when addressing issues
    • Accepting ownership for our own actions
    • Turning negative self-talk into positive thoughts about ourselves

    Key Question: How do I stop “shoulding” on people?

    What is “shoulding?”

    “You should have taken out the garbage before you went to work.”  “You should have checked the oil before you drove it.”  “You should have told her to bug off.”  Sound familiar?


    Why we “should” on others

    Unfulfilled expectations can be disheartening and damaging.  When things that we anticipate don’t come true, things come crashing down around us.  We have put too much of our success, happiness and needs on the shoulders of others.  When we are not happy, we tell ourselves it is their fault. They should do something different.

    The effect of “shoulding”

    Just hearing the word “should” places people in the position to justify, defend or retaliate.  “Shoulding” is blaming language and conveys a tone and attitude of judgment, disappointment or disapproval. This language can initiate or intensify conflict.

    Replace “shoulding”

    Use language that clearly conveys your needs and feelings in a way that you will be heard.  Avoid accusing others. Start sentences with “I” vs. “You.”

    Instead of saying,  “You should have been straight with us.”

    Say, “I am really angry and I need to understand what happened.”

    Take responsibility:

    Notice what “should” implies.  It implies some need that is not being met.  Dig deeper and ask what you are really upset about.

    Shoulding can be blaming on everyone else rather than accepting responsibility for ourselves.  We can always take responsibility for our response.

    Be Specific

    Be very clear about what concerns you.  Avoid using “you,” speak from your own perspective.

    Instead of saying:  “I felt really frustrated when you….”

    Say:  “I felt really frustrated when “x” happened and the reason I was frustrated is that it undermined my authority.”

    End with a Resolution Request

    End with a request prevent conflict in the future.

    Say:  “How can we handle this differently in the future? 

    Or: “How can I prevent this in the future?”

    Your Assignment

    An assignment that can help you avoid “shoulding” on people:

    • Count and note the number of “shoulds” you hear this week.
    • Make a mental note of how people react if you or someone else “shoulds” on them

    To learn more about this topic, listen to the entire podcast, Stop Shoulding on People  http://www.texasconflictcoach.com/2010/stop-shoulding-on-people/

    Patricia “Pattie” Porter, LCSW, ABW, AAP

    The Texas Conflict Coach

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    Pertinent Points:

    • Forgiveness is a healthy and positive action you take for yourself.

      Peace and Forgiveness

    • Forgiveness can happen without reconciliation. However, reconciliation cannot proceed without forgiveness.
    • Apologies are never guaranteed. Forgiveness can occur without receiving an apology.
    • When you forgive someone, you are NOT condoning what they did or implying that it is okay.

    How can the P.E.A.C.E Model assist in forgiveness work?

    1. Perception and Clarification. Think about clarifying your perceptions of your needs, values, and desires. Dr. LaVena Wilkin says to ask yourself, “How are you benefiting from holding onto the anger? How would you benefit if you released that anger, resentment, and blame?” Be honest with your responses.
    2. Empathetic Listening. Listen to your heart, and put aside what your ego and pride are telling you. Ignore the voice telling you that if you forgive this person, then you are saying it is okay what they did.
    3. Appreciating Diversity. Appreciate and acknowledge all the different feelings and emotions that are coming up for you. You are not wrong to feel what you feel.
    4. Collaborative Problem-Solving. Forgiveness takes work. While collaborating with the person with whom you are angry is ideal, sometimes that person doesn’t believe they did anything wrong and are unwilling to work with you to reconcile. Instead, reach out to your support network and do collaborative problem-solving with them.
    5. Emotional Intelligence. Be aware of what triggers you and why. Don’t deny your anger, instead acknowledge it. Dr. LaVena Wilkin explains, “When you are aware of your emotions you can discriminate against them and better understand why you do the things you do and why others do the thing they do.”

    Your Assignment:

    In our interview with Dr. LaVena Wilkin on The Texas Conflict Coach® podcast, Dr. Wilkins’ suggested an assignment that can assist you in forgiving others. This is task is for YOU.  Dr. Wilkins’ asks you to “Think about an area in your life that needs forgiveness work. Use the P.E.A.C.E Model to reflect and work through that area.”

    To learn more about forgiveness, listen to the entire episode entitled: Forgiveness: The Gift You Give to Yourself

    Abigail R.C. McManus, M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

    Guest Blogger

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  • There’s plenty of tension, some days, in the workplace over things such as deadlines and teams and managements and pay. But there’s often another outside source of tension that can create an unwelcome dynamic in the office: touchy subjects.

    Those touchy subjects—and our opinions of them—are wide and broad, everything from sports to religion, politics, and sex. And because many of us work together and are connected on social media, we may know more about the inner workings of our co-workers emotions and beliefs than we ever did before. And that oversharing—online and then in the office—can lead to tension or outright anger.

    That’s not to say that discussions like this cannot be productive—they can be, of course. But they can quickly escalate, which is why it’s important to have coping strategies that help you navigate those. What can you do? This graphic can help.

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