“Mom, can we have a cookie?“
“No, we’re all out” I reply.
My son walks to the pantry, swings open the door, points and taunts,
“Yes we do. I told you so!“
I didn’t think a phrase could be more obnoxious than “NO!” until my children entered the “I told you so!” phase. “See, my shoes were downstairs. I told you so!“, “See, I told you the curvy way was faster than the hilly way!“. It doesn’t matter if they’re even right, they just want to prove I’m wrong.
But isn’t that true no matter the age? Being correct isn’t what really matters as long as someone else is wrong. In many business situations people are consumed with assuming their point of view is the only one that could possibly be correct. I’ve watched colleagues exhaust themselves in an effort to prove another co-worker wrong. Or worse, I’ve observed as individuals create an environment where their co-workers are constantly forced to prove the accuracy of their work. Speed, success, and collaboration are sacrificed all because the assumption of correctness.
If you have people like this on your team, fear not. Like so many issues, this results out of a power struggle. My kids act out because they want to position themselves as knowledgeable and independent. Those people that try to prove others wrong are most likely hungry for attention and need reaffirmation. Employees need to know that they’re contributing to a larger goal and that they’re equally as valuable. You must work to better understand their motivators. Is this individual lacking praise? Does the employee want to contribute more within a team environment? Are they constantly overshadowed by other co-workers? If you can identify the source of irritation you can work to resolve the problem and improve the environment for all affected.
See, I told you so!