Step Away from the “Should” Zone

What happens when you enter the “should” zone? How often do you find yourself there?

Some days, I walk around happy and grateful for this miracle of life that I get to live. Other times, I catch myself entering the “should” zone. The should zone includes all the things people (including myself) should say or do or not say or do.

As a mediator, I see the “should” zone issues arise many types of relationships, whether in a family or friendship, within a workplace or organization, or out in the community. 

If you are like me, you may have ideas about how people “should” behave. It might be as simple as “you should say, “hello” when you enter a room” or “you should arrive on time for meetings” or “you should respond to texts or emails.”   

When I “should” on myself or someone else, I end up acting from a place of judgement. It may cut off the connection, or severely limit it.

Having expectations may be perfectly normal. However, issues arise when people do not clearly communicate these, or everyone involved does not sees the importance.

It helps when the purpose and importance become clear. If you believe your spouse or colleague “should” say “hello” when they enter a room, it may stem from a need for connection and acknowledgement. When the person you wish to say “hello” does not know or understand this, they may think it is no big deal to quietly enter a space.  

People often enter relationships with different sets of ideas on how their partners or colleagues “should” behave. No one typically talks about them until they become an issue (and sometimes still avoid the conversation).  

“Should” stems from underlying needs for autonomy, connection, meaning, harmony, joy, and security. Communicating from a place of “should” may make or break a relationship. 

When you lean in with compassion and curiosity to understand what folks are thinking about your clear expectations, you may decide whether that particular “should” creates the relationship you seek. You may also come up with new ideas and options to meet everyone’s needs.

What are your “shoulds?” What if the other person does not think they “should” have to meet that request? 

Basic non-violent communication (nvc) offers a framework to ask for what you need with clarity. It also understands a no response may meet another person’s needs. To learn more, you may attend an on-line Peace Building class.  

What if you stepping away from the “should” zone brings you closer?

Sherry Ann Bruckner

Sherry Ann Bruckner

Most widely known as Lonzo's human, mediator, speaker, and author Sherry Ann Bruckner works with leaders and organizations to create peace, resolve conflict, and transform visions into results.

From her twenty-plus years' experience practicing civil and family law, and her own personal experiences with silence and violence, Sherry Ann understands how much inner peace impacts outer peace. A graduate of Hamline University's College of Liberal Arts and William Mitchell College of Law, she also studied conflict resolution at Rothberg International School in Jerusalem. Sherry serves as a neutral on matters ranging from bias and employment discrimination to marriage dissolution and caring for aging parents. A speaker and trainer on the global stage, Sherry gives you and your audience practical skills and the confidence to use embrace your personal power to create peace. Through helping thousands of people navigate their way through conflict, and finding her own way to inner peace, she shares the transformational power of clarity, compassion, curiosity, and cribbage.

Visit to learn more or give her a call at (320) 808-3212.
Sherry Ann Bruckner

Be gentle with you. Be gentle with all. Be the peace.