The One Phrase You Need to Stop Saying

What is the one response you get whenever you ask your kids to do something? If you’ve ever been a parent to a teenager, you know this phrase especially well. “Yeah ok, I know…”

While this phrase may have been an excellent way to get parents off of our backs growing up, the “I know” mentality is a tough one to break, especially in the workplace. We may say the phrase more politely as adults (muttered under our breathe or kept to ourselves in our head), but this destructive mindset has the power to halt our self-improvement, hurt our personal and professional reputations, and create resentment amongst our colleagues and peers. How can we break free from this way of thinking and create a positive attitude that fosters communication, creativity and learning?

Why saying “I Know” is detrimental as a boss.

Have you ever immediately told a team member that their idea wouldn’t work, simply because you’ve tried it before? If so, you have fallen prey to the “I Know” mentality. Shutting down an employee’s idea because you have tried it before kills the possibility that you could learn something from their conversation. Did they have a different approach to the idea that could give you a fresh perspective on it? Knowing what you know now, could you brainstorm ways with the employee on how to find a solution to the reason it failed before?

What’s more, having the “I know” mentality with your employees limits or even eliminates their involvement in the task or project. They will not continue to give you 100% effort when their ideas keep getting quashed with an “I know” excuse. They may even stop speaking up or sharing their ideas out of frustration and fear of rejection.

Why saying “I Know” is problematic as an employee.

Have you ever said “I know” when your boss gave you an assignment because you wanted it to look like you didn’t need help… then went back with your tail between your legs a little later asking for more clarification? Or, maybe you said “I know” because you assumed you knew what they were referring to, only to have to re-do your work later on because of misinterpretation? We are often so eager to start working on an assignment, and we forget to take the time to fully understand what our boss wants and to gather all the necessary details.

Saying “I know” cuts the dialog between you and your boss short, especially at times when you need more information to comprehend what they are asking of you. You will get your work done quicker and more accurately if you set aside your “I know” mentality and open up a conversation about your boss’s expectations. It will also help you keep an open mind when it comes to trying things a different way and staying open to new ideas and changes.

Instead of saying “I know,” say “Isn’t that interesting.”

Whether you’re a boss or an employee (or both), you can always know more than you know now! Reframing your response to “Isn’t that interesting,” allows the person you are speaking with to explain and expand upon their thoughts and point of view. This phrase keeps the communication flowing and helps you and your organization to grow through learning and self-improvement. Keep on moving forward by staying open to new ideas – or old ideas with a fresh perspective – and expand upon your current beliefs and your ability to think creatively. Stay committed to finding new ways to increase your knowledge and developing new skill sets that lead to never-ending improvement!

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