I bet I hear someone say “I told you” at least once a week.
Whenever I am in the presence of someone who utters the words “I told you so” I absolutely cringe. It doesn’t even have to be these exact words…it can be any words that communicate the same meaning.
I cringe because I know what the deeper impact that these words are having on the relationship…and its not good!
Generally these words are associated with situations where you’ve offered advice to someone to either do or not do something, and then they do the opposite of what you suggested, and it turns out poorly for them. Most people just can’t resist the urge to somehow sneak into the conversation…”I told you so.”
Here’s what is taking place when you say the words “I told you so” (or imply this in any way):
The other person certainly remembers the advice you gave them because they consciously chose not to listen to it. They do not need to be reminded. They are currently experiencing the consequences of their actions. They are feeling whatever pain it is causing. They will resent you saying that you told them.
When you resist the urge to affirm how right you were, here is what happens:
You instead focus on how you can help them overcome the consequences of their actions. You are there to pick them up when they have fallen or you show humility in your success or victory or whatever the case may be. Your credibility grows as a person. You have increased emotional equity with this person. You will be seen as someone they will want to come to in the future because you are not judgmental of their decisions. You will be thought of as humble, wise, and trustworthy. They will never forget that you were right…and that you didn’t mention it.
So if you tend to say “I told you so”…the next time you do it…well…I’m not going to say it:-)