Should: Why you shouldn’t

Great leaders create a culture of creativity, productivity and collaboration. They do so with such subtly that people don’t even notice. It’s the little things that make it so, here is one of them.

The human brain cannot simultaneously protect and create

The human brain has two basic incompatible states: Protection and Growth.
Each of us has what I call the lizard brain. This is the bit of the brain lower on the evolutionary scale, the basic survival element. The lizard brain is a nervous little critter, constantly scanning the environment to determine if things are safe. Ready to bolt to it’s hidey-hole at the first sign of danger.

To ensure we survive what our lizard brain has identified as a clear and present danger our system is wired to shut down all systems that are not essential to our immediate survival. One of the challenges of modern life is the fact that our lizard brains don’t distinguish between an attacking bear and a looming TPS report, a stymied project or tension within a workplace team.

The more naturally and completely the members of your team are immersed in what their lizard brain experiences as a safe environment the more consistently and effectively they’ll be able to access their creative, innovative and productive thinking.

Your everyday language creates an environment for innovation, creativity & productivity – or not

Language is a fundamental part of culture and environment. It is not derived from the “leadership” buzzwords. It is subtleties in everyday communication that make the difference.

In our everyday language, there are words that tend to nurture productivity, creativity and motivation and there are words that tend to crush these things.

If you want to nurture of culture of innovation & creativity and enable your team members to fully access and utilize their talents for your business try replacing the word “should” with the word “could”.

Should sets up dynamic of opposition

Louise Hay sums it up well:

” If there is one word I would remove from our language it is the word “should”. It implies one is wrong, was wrong or is about to be wrong.”

Consider for a moment. When someone tells you you should do something. What is your reaction? The word “should” triggers an instinct to defend one’s position.

The word should fuels the power dynamic where giving up one’s position equals giving up power. The word “could” provides an avenue for a change of position while saving face.

Replace “should” with “could” for one week

For one week try replacing the world “should” with “could” in all your communications.
When I first implemented this practice I was amazed at how quickly even the most contentious people and teams shifted from defending their position to building on my “could” suggestion to come up with an even better solution. This exercise includes  yourself. For one week no shoulding on yourself either.

photo: flickr