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How many times did they tell you?

I told you so!

2023 October 24 | by Arduino Mancini Heuristics and biases - Reprimand Praise feedback

How many times have you felt subtle disappointment or even anger when someone said, “I told you so”?

Yes, because the person who says “I told you so…” gives you the feeling to be sure to have correctly interpreted a particular situation, predicting its development; as you obviously did not.

You, of what was happening, had not understood anything.

“I told you so” generally applies to three types of circumstances, which I am going to briefly describe:

  • the first type is about you and your interlocutor; it often has to do with choices or actions you made that were not successful. In this case the “I told you so” has the flavour of reproach, more or less veiled; sometimes even of blaming. In this case, the expression may provoke a surge of anger and lead to a fierce argument: in short, you may end up in a fight;
  • the second type, common in the work environment, involves the interpretation of facts or decisions made by third parties (a project managed by a colleague, strategic choices, the outcome of a negotiation, etc.) but which you feel are close to you and which may have even important implications for you or your future;
  • the last one concerns situations (news events, politics, worldly events, etc.) that neither you nor your interlocutor have the possibility to influence, of which you are, that is, interested observers.).

When faced with situations and their developments we build our own idea, a scenario, and remain grounded in them.

“I told you so” is often a display of the tendency to observe events by looking at them for confirming one’s thinking, in the illusory belief of governing uncertainty.

The person who says “I told you so” is, first, reassuring himself: even when he was right.

So, why get angry, when someone says, “I told you so”?

PS: Have you ever happened to turn to someone and say, “I told you so!”? And how did he take it?

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