Aug 262014 2 Responses

Do You Know What You Should’ve Done?

Do you know what you should’ve done? You should’ve never asked that question.

In nearly every situation, it is a useless statement.

Aside from the coach who is looking for mistakes in practice so she can correct them before the game, the question “Do you know what you should’ve done?” should never be asked. (See: Everyone Has a Right to Ignore Your Opinion)

As a public speaker, one of the most frustrating pieces of advice which I often receive is a correction of a speech after it has been given. It’s frustrating not because the person is wrong, but because there is nothing I can do with the information. It’s pointless.

Yet when someone corrects a speech which I repeat, a correction can be the greatest gift possible. If they prevent me from making future mistakes, I am forever grateful. If they tell what I’ve done wrong with no ability to make it right, I’m frustrated.

Whenever we ask, “Do you know what you should’ve done?” it is rarely asked in a way that can make a situation better.

Thankfully, there is a better question. (See: The Devil Doesn’t Need an Advocate)

Every time you are tempted to look at a situation and criticize or critique what should’ve taken place, pause and ask, “How can I make this better?” Instead of focusing on the past actions of another, focus on the future actions of yourself.

Look for small changes, little adaptations, and new applications which can make an idea, object, or situation better. If someone has an idea, don’t think in a “for or against” mindset. Be open-minded, consider what they are saying, and brainstorm ways to make it better. Take their idea and offer suggestions to improve it, advance it, and make it more useful.

Far too much time is spent in opposition to ideas and movements instead of spending time improving ideas and movements. If we could ever move from opposing situations to making them better, our work, families, and communities would be in better shape.

We’ve all sat in meetings whether at work, home, or for a local non-profit in which a problem is presented to a group. Someone makes a suggestion. Consider the courage it takes to make a suggestion. The person risks rejection, ridicule, and silence. Yet, they make an effort.

However, instead of truly considering the idea, many people immediately judge it as right or wrong. (See: Three Things Every Employee Should Do)

But what if, no matter the idea, the group took five minutes to add to the idea, morph it, make it better, and do everything in their power to build on the original concept. Make the concept as good as it can possibly be and then decide, is this the direction we want to go or not?

This process would be far more productive.

As we should have this mindset in group meetings, so we should have this mindset in our individual lives.

Stop saying if you are for or against something.

Stop critiquing what you think people should’ve done. (See: Never Try to Prove Yourself)

Start listening and doing everything in your power to make things better. If you make small changes, suggestions, and adjustments to the ideas people present, two things will happen:

1. People will feel supported. They will feel respected, heard, and taken seriously. It will enable you to disagree with them without them taking it personally because they have seen you do everything you can to help them and their idea.

2. Progress will be made on tough issues. No one has all the answers. We need the thinking of one another to solve complex problems. When we are all involved, original ideas get better.

Do you know what you should’ve done? You should’ve stopped asking that question and considered how to make an event or situation better.

2 Responses to Do You Know What You Should’ve Done?
  1. Gilbert H. Huerta Reply

    Thanks for affirming the value of teamwork.

  2. Steven Hill (@_stevenhill) Reply

    I’ve heard it said, “Don’t should on me.”

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