Is there a right time for "I told you so?"

Great pleasure can be realized from telling someone, “I told you so.†Great frustration, however, often is the reason for blurting out these words, and acting out on negative feelings is never a good idea. So do you say it, or do you think it? Numerous times during the past several years, I have interviewed designers and builders whose advice was not followed by the clients who, ironically, are paying these professionals for their expertise. It’s a tough line to walk, they tell me, between knowing what will look good and giving the clients what they want. It can be done successfully, but it takes special communications skills to pull it off. Possible approaches to steering clients away from bad decisions vary, starting with blunt, in-your-face honesty such as, “Don’t do the home theater. That’s a dumb idea.†The soft approach is another option which might go something like this: “Your idea is good. But, you might consider turning this into a multimedia/family room rather than a home theater.†You might also be required to drop subtle hints that your client’s decision is not the best. Hints, unfortunately, don’t work on people wearing blinders or who think they know best. When clients dismiss your advice and follow their gut, telling them, “I told you so†can be therapeutic, but it’s rarely advised. Instead, keep quiet, know you’re right, and move on. How do you handle “I told you so†moments? Share your thoughts by sending me an e-mail. Or, scroll up to the first paragraph of this blog entry, look to the right and click where you see, “Leave a comment†or “Post or view comments.â€

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