“You should…”

“Hey man, you should read this. You’d love it. It’s amazing.”

“Oi Maria! Have you seen that the latest Marvel film? No?! Oh. My. God. You should watch it.”

“I started this new meditation thing a few weeks ago. I was sceptical at first, but boy, it’s totally changed my life. You should definitely try it.”

In the above examples can you imagine the recipient saying, “Really? That sounds AMAZING! I’m gonna go read/watch/do it too.” Yeah, I don’t see that happening either. The response I imagine is how I typically respond to people telling me I should do something: with polite indifference. For me, and for others, the only thing that saying “you should” guarantees is that we won’t.

Think about it. When was the last time someone nagging and insisting you do something changed your life? I bet it hasn’t. But I bet your life has changed many times after following your curiosity and discovering something.

So what to do instead? What can we say about something we care about if we can’t say “you should”? Why don’t you tell them about the most revolutionary idea the book contains? How about you describe your favourite scene from the movie? How about you mention the benefits the new practice has brought into your life? Show your enjoyment and excitement not through your insistence, but by the excitement with which you discuss it, and via the visible impact it has had on your life and thinking. 

We are like stubborn mules. The more someone insists we do something or go somewhere, the more we resist and refuse to be moved. So if you want to recommend something, anything, describe the thing or the impact it is having. Don’t advise that someone does watches I, reads it, or does it. That way, you inflame their curiosity. That way you get them to ask questions. That way, you can let their naturally occurring interest, not your insistence, create intrigue and eventually, excitement.