"I told you so.” These are four dreadful words nobody particularly wants to hear. Yet, people often find a sense of satisfaction after saying them to someone else.
Whether arguing with a parent, sibling, friend or significant other, being able to say, “I told you so” implies "I'm right; you're wrong."
So, why say such passive aggressive words, especially after the person is already well aware of being at fault for a mistake?
On one hand, people say it because being right gives fills them with a sense of power and knowledge regarding the situation. On the other hand, that saying gets old super quickly.
Of course, many use the phrase jokingly with no intention of hurting another person’s feelings.
However, when used with the direct purpose of making someone feel worse than he or she already does, “I told you so” becomes a spiteful and often uncalled for way to emphasize someone’s mistakes.
And, it is a habit worth breaking. Here's why:
Be Encouraging, Not Discouraging
People can be stubborn. It’s a part of human nature, after all. When someone else ends up making a wrong turn, even after he or she was repeatedly told, over and over again, something bad would come of it, it’s important to remember a constant reminder of the mistake is pointless.
No matter how many times “I told you so,” or “you should have done this, you should have done that” comes up in a conversation, it does not change the situation at hand.
Rather, it would be more beneficial and efficient to help the person learn from the mistake and make the situation better, however that may be. There may be no quick fix, but nobody likes doses of negativity thrown in his or her way.
Upon realizing the mistake, the person already gets the idea. He or she should have listened to what everyone suggested and done something else. There is no need to rub mistakes in someone's face.
Everyone Makes Mistakes
All people make mistakes. Not just some people, but all. The point is, everyone has found himself or herself, at one time or another, in a situation where he or she made a mistake, even though somebody else warned about the repercussions beforehand.
Perhaps you decided to go out with your friends the night before an exam rather than staying in and studying. Then, you took the test hungover and earned a lower score than you hoped to get.
Maybe you chose to not listen to your parents about refilling the gas tank when only a quarter of a tank remained, hoping gas prices would fall before you hit E, but instead, you ended up stranded on the side of the freeway, calling everyone you know for help.
Regardless of the situation, being in that sort of position can be crummy. We kick ourselves over and over again and look back at all the things we could have done to prevent it from happening.
When other people find themselves in that spot, it is most helpful to be sympathetic because we have all been there. As the saying goes, treat others how you would like to be treated.
Life Goes On
At times, the dilemmas in which people find themselves may feel like they are, in some way or another, unfixable, or, in more dramatic cases, the end of the world as we know it.
It is also during these times people like to gloat the most when they were right all along.
However, odds are, nobody will remember who was right or wrong in any situation (other than the parties involved, of course), but rather, everyone will remember the story about how the problem was resolved.
The lesson to be learned is that life goes on. Saying “I told you so” will likely not help anything nor matter in the future, so rather than investing energy in making others feel worse, it's better to use it to make the situation better.
So, next time you find yourself in an argument with a significant other, roommate or parent, think twice before gloating and saying “I told you so” in the event you are right. Rather, try to be useful and think of ways to make the situation better.
After all, nobody likes a know-it-all.