A couple of weeks ago my two girls were playing together in the corner of the living room. I was sitting nearby and heard Lily say, “Cailyn, Daddy says we can’t say that.” Not hearing what “that” was, I asked Lily what happened. She said Cailyn said, “I know”. I replied, “oh you’re right, we shouldn’t say that should we?” “No, that’s not good,” she replied.
What’s wrong with it?
Nothing is inherently wrong with the words “I know”, but think for a minute about why we use that phrase in conversation.
Often, “I know” is a response to someone trying to share something with us. By responding with the phrase, “I know”, we are communicating to the other person that they don’t need to keep sharing – since you already know anyway, right? It suggests that we aren’t open to new information OR that we want to make sure you know that we already knew that- which then becomes a pride issue. Either way, the conversation will likely come to an abrupt halt, and if done persistently, can damage a relationship.
Now, take a minute and think of an alternative phrase.
“Really”, “Wow”, “That’s interesting”, or even just an “oh” or “okay”.
These phrases communicate that we enjoy listening to the person talking, and that we are teachable. Even if the information they are sharing is old news to us, we bring value to other person by affirming what they are saying, and the context in which it matters to them.
When Filipe and I first got married, he noticed I did this A LOT. In fact, it’s why it’s become a big deal in our house because there’s been quite a shift in my heart and my attitude with just this small, simple phrase. It wasn’t easy at first, but slowly it began to fade.
[I accidentally used this phrase in a note I wrote the other day, but couldn’t take it back- probably the reason for this blog post now. I’m still a work in progress.]
I have tried thinking for a good reason to use the phrase because I wanted to be sure I could ban it from our house without any push-back. Then I thought about what it must have been like for Jesus walking around here on planet Earth. Talk about someone who knew everything! But, I have a feeling he didn’t flaunt his knowledge. He humbled himself. And just like him, we are to do the same.
Try this week. Replace “I know” with “oh, really”… or think of your own phrase- as long as it doesn’t communicate superiority.