How often do you find yourself entering the “should” zone? Some days, I walk around happy and grateful for this miracle of life that I get to live, and other times, I catch myself going into the “should” zone. The should zone includes all the things people (including myself) should have said or done or should be doing or saying.
I notice this happens in many relationships, whether in a family or friendship, or workplace or the community. People create rules for how other people “should” behave. It might be as simple as “you should say, “hello” when you enter a room” or “you should spend time with your child on their birthday” or “you should respond to texts or emails.”
Having rules or expectations may be fine. Issues arise when people do not clearly communicate the rules. This happens when the purpose or importance remains unclear. If someone has a rule that people should say “hello” when they enter a room, it often stems from a need for connection and acknowledgement. Unless the person expected to say “hello” understands this, they may think it is no big deal to quietly enter a space.
People often enter relationships with different sets of “rules” on how their partner or spouse “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, peace, joy, and security. Communicating the “should” may make or break a relationship. 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 a free on-line Peace Building 101 class.