Did you notice how much that sentence annoyed you? Try this one: You should be nicer to people. Or hows about this: You should get a new job. Those statements really piss people off, right? Even when they offer good advice.
You might have been thinking about getting a new job for a while, for instance, but when somebody tells you that you should look for a new job, it tends to make you want to slap them upside the head, right? It's that word should that does the damage, you see.
Nobody has the right to tell anyone else what they should or shouldn't do, and when a bartender uses that word when talking to a customer, an automatic barrier goes up between the two parties. That's not a good thing. It leads to trouble.
We all know that there are times when we have to lay down the law, and as I said in a previous column, asking for their help is one way to go, but here's another suggestion: Instead of telling your guest that they should, say, keep their voice down a little, try using this sentence:
"I wonder if you could think about lowering your voice a little, please?"
By asking someone to think about doing something, you're not only avoiding the should word, you're allowing the guest to make his/her own decision on the subject. Chances are really good that voices will be lowered, and a confrontation will be avoided. Give it a whirl, then. Or should I say, please think about giving it a whirl . . .
With lotsa love from gaz regan
Who can refuse
Ripened and mellow
(The green, not the yellow).
Use, not abuse,
Bright little fellow
But never refuse
A kiss on the lips from
On a Margin by Julius Chambers, 1908.