You’ve probably been in a situation where someone tells you something you already know.
Maybe it was your friend trying to be nice and give you advice, or perhaps a colleague thought you didn’t understand what they were saying.
If someone tells you something you already know, respond with interest in what the person is saying and ask what about it the other person found most meaningful.
3 Safe Answers When You Already Knew Something
When responding to someone who tells you something you already know, the most important thing to remember is that it’s okay to be yourself. You might have been taught not to speak up or be honest, but we can all be honest and kind with these phrases.
“It’s good for me to hear this.”
“I’m glad that has worked for you!”
“That makes sense! I wish I had realized it sooner.”
It’s hard to avoid being told things you already know. And that’s okay; there is no shame in knowing.
The good news is there are ways to respond when someone tells you something you already know without making them feel like they’ve wasted their time.
Consider the following scenario: your teacher asks if anyone knows how many pages are in a book; she then proceeds to name a number and asks how many pages it represents. You could say, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t understand.”
But these responses might give the impression that either A) there’s something wrong with your brain or B) you’re not paying attention-neither which is true! There are plenty of opportunities for this kind of thing to happen in school settings.
Instead, take a different approach: Tell her that she already answered her question by naming a number and asking if it was correct (because it was).
- If you’re in a meeting, listen to the others in the room and summarize the main points at the end of the discussion. This shows that you’re paying attention, which is important!
- If someone makes a statement relevant to your work but isn’t directed at you specifically, don’t respond or react; this is probably not an appropriate time for discussion.
- If someone has made an interesting suggestion or asked an intelligent question about what’s going on in your office, feel free to speak up with helpful information.
- Remember, not everyone will agree with everything everyone else says (even if they say it nicely).
- When offering opinions or advice during meetings or conversations, keep these things in mind: be polite; offer suggestions when asked; listen carefully before responding; don’t interrupt; avoid sarcasm at all costs.
In relationships, this can be an excellent way to build rapport with people. It shows that you are interested in them and want to get to know them better. It also shows that you’re listening to what they say, which is important for any conversation.
Repeating back what someone says makes them feel appreciated and understood-which will make them more likely to open up about their feelings in the future, too!
And when someone tells us something we already know (or think we already know), there’s no need for us to repeat it back verbatim; instead, paraphrase what was said so that it sounds like our own words:
“I’m so glad you told me about your vacation plans-I’ve always wanted my family and friends together on a beach somewhere warm.”
Acknowledge the Information Doesn’t Seem New
There are a few ways you can respond when someone tells you something you already know.
The first is to acknowledge that the information doesn’t seem new and then ask if you can share your experience.
“Oh yeah? I’ve been there too.”
Second, ask if you can ask them a question about their advice or experience.
This allows them to feel useful and important while also giving them an opportunity for follow-up conversation!
“That’s good to know-would it be okay if I asked about how long it took for things to get better for you?”
Lastly and most importantly: Asking for advice on how to use the information in your life will ensure that your time spent listening was well spent!
This is vital because listening without action is worthless (but not as bad as watching TV).
Show Interest in How the Person Came to Know the Information
The next step is to show interest in how the person came to know the information. Ask for details about their experiences and how they apply them.
It’s also important to ask how they found out about it-was someone else telling them about it? Was there a class or workshop that got them interested?
If you want to be helpful, ask what specific information has been most useful for them so far.
This shows that you’re paying attention without putting down any preconceived notions of what’s important (such as whether you think all diets are terrible or not).
Ask for Details About the Other Person’s Experiences with the Information
Ideally, you’ll want to understand where the other person learned this information.
If it’s from a personal experience, ask them to tell you about the context in which they came across the information. Where were they? Who else was there? What were their thoughts and feelings at the time?
If it’s from an article, book, or another piece of published material, ask them who wrote it and their credentials.
The more background knowledge you have on your source, the better equipped you’ll be to judge its reliability-which is especially important given that Google is always going to be a top result when looking up anything remotely technical (and even some things that aren’t).
Finally: Try not to ask too many questions! You don’t want them thinking that all their hard work was for naught because now there’s one question left unanswered.
Ask for Advice on How to Use the Information in Your Life
It’s not that you don’t value the person telling you something you already know; it’s just that some people are too busy to explain how something works.
That can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be.
You can politely ask for advice on how to use the information in your life.
“So, what did I just learn?” (In this case, “learn” means “learned.”)
“So how do I apply [the thing]?” (In this case, “[the thing]” is whatever they just told you.)
“I’m wondering if you’d share some of your tips with me so I can better apply them.”
We hope this article helped you see how to respond when someone tells you something you already know. It is not always easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard, either.
You can still show interest in what other people say and ask them for advice on how they might apply the information in their lives.
By doing this, your conversation partner will feel more comfortable sharing with you and might even learn something new themselves!
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.