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Shoulda, woulda, coulda...

Kristy Grant-Hart ( is the Managing Director of Spark Compliance Consulting in London, and author of the book, How to be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer.

Which sounds better to you: (1) I should have a clean inbox; (2) I would have a clean inbox (but…); or (3) I could have a clean inbox? Should, would, could…the words sound similar but have entirely different meanings. Frequently, people use them interchangeably, but by consciously choosing your language, you may also change your outcomes. How does one word choice make such a difference? The Britannica Dictionary’s Ask the Editor is instructive in this.[1]

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