“Years ago, I tried to top everybody, but I don’t anymore, I realized it was killing conversation. When you’re always trying for a topper you aren’t really listening. It ruins communication. “ Groucho Marx
“I already know that.” Now there is a phrase that does not encourage conversation. In fact if someone approaches you to speak with you and you hit them with an “I already know that”; you might as well say “Go away” or “I don’t care what you think”. You just killed the conversation.
And if you don’t say it aloud but you think it to yourself, congratulations you just turned off your brain and you just killed the conversation.
Of course you are really smart and you do know lots of things. So when your friend, partner, co-worker or child starts to share information with you, perhaps you do already know what they want to tell you. But that isn’t always the point. When you shut them down, you are closing the door to communication. When you turn them away with an “I already know that”, you are discouraging them from sharing with you and from growing with you. The next time that they have information to share, they may see you and just keep walking. And when that happens, you will really miss out. You will miss the opportunity to learn something new, you will miss the opportunity to strengthen your bond with this person and you will no longer play a part in their growth and they will no longer participate in your growth.
When someone starts to tell you something that you think you already know consider refraining from saying “I already know that”. Try not to even think it. And if it pops into your head, push it to the side. Your role in this situation might be to allow the other person to share and explore this information. Your role might be to help them learn and grow simply by listening and discussing this information with them. And isn’t it possible that you don’t know everything? Isn’t it possible that listening to them share the information and hearing their perspective could broaden your perspective? The conversation may start with something that you are sure that you know, but who knows where it will go from that point? But if you stop it before it starts, it goes nowhere.
But then you already knew that, didn’t you?