There is this thing that people say. It could be intentional, or unintentional, or just a very bad habit. It is the utterance of the words, “I know”. It is not the ‘I know’ that acknowledges something that they actually already know, it is the ‘I know’ said in a hasty manner that ends conversations. Usually said in a way that repeats itself several times.

‘I know, I know I know’

But do you really know when you say ‘I know’?

Usually that’s not the case. And it is one of the most damaging things you can say that not only affects your career and work life, but also your personal life as well.


No Chance for Personal Development

‘I know’ is basically a gigantic wall put up between you and potential knowledge. Uttering ‘I know’ too quickly in conversations can be detrimental to your ability to receive something new from someone else.

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Colleague: This project would be made easier if we could present it on hard copies rather than…

You: I know, I know

Colleague: Ok…

Yes, maybe you do really know about the project and that hard copies are easier to handle but maybe there was something else that your colleague would have said that could be of much higher value. By busting out that habitual speech of ‘I know’, you have effectively stopped the conversation in its tracks, leading to no more transfer of information; thus you lose out, not knowing anything new.

You will then, over a span of time and many ‘I know’ conversation killers, be stuck in only what you know to be true and right. This ultimately cages you in a box made only out of your own ideas and beliefs, hindering any form of personal development. With nothing new coming in the only way you can self-develop is to modify your own current belief systems – which is the slowest way to learn and grow.


Interpersonal Relationships are Strained

Over the course of your life through school, college, uni, and work, you would have at least encountered one ‘Mr/Ms Know-It-All’. They could really ‘know-it-all’ or maybe it is just a front for their incompetence. Most of the time, if they uttered ‘I know’ and brushed you off without any further conversation means that they actually ‘do not know’. Now you wouldn’t want to be that right?

If you are that sort of person, people will soon find that dealing with you may be more frustrating than trying to get a splinter out of their fingers. Any form of intelligent conversation would be avoided as they would already know that you ‘know’. So what’s the point of having the conversation in the first place?

Intelligent conversations mostly comprise of agreements and disagreements on a certain topic with the exchange of different information and a consensus reached at the end. Like the point given in the sub-header above, ‘I know’ completely renders the conversation dead on arrival.

So with this, the people around you, your colleagues, your boss, your parents, your friends, would very much prefer to keep any long-drawn conversations away from you and only have surface skimming, light conversations. This limit of communication hinders your chances of building any form of meaningful relationships with the people who think you are just a ‘know-it-all’.

Remember that being too quick to prove that you know something actually makes you not appear very smart. With time, you will soon find out that you are sidelined from activities or projects just because you are not likeable.


Career Reaches a Blockade

Now with the points given above, you face the problems of not learning anything new, and having limited relations with people. Two of these elements directly impact your ability to build a good career. Why is that so?

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For one, it is a known fact that most people who have succeeded in their careers and life owe it to others. No man is an island. It is the people around, your networks, and your mentors that in every little way, would have given slivers of information, opportunities and open doors for you to achieve what you want to achieve in your career and life. If you fail to have any meaningful relationships with people, it could just spell your downfall. If no one likes you it would be pretty hard to progress in your career.

The other, and also most crucial for your own personal brand, is that the quick ‘I know’ destroys the ability to let you learn faster. By being too stuck in your methods and techniques, not listening to others and just playing the game by yourself, you lose out on all the new tips and tricks that could potentially be harnessed to make yourself a better worker and a better person. And the worst part about not being able to learn faster and make your skills better – there lies the possibility of you being surpassed by someone else because you are not developing.


As grim as I have painted the consequences of this bad habit, it holds true that no one would ever have gained anything from that habit. Remember that you may not know, even though you thought you know.

So how does one get out of this dangerous loop? Well the simplest thing you can change is to simply just listen. Listen hard and listen well before you say anything. People love it when someone listens to what they have to say. Everyone appreciates a good listener. No one ever lost anything from listening (well except time that is) and you have everything else to gain from it.

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Posted by Joshua Boey

I write (type) stuff that may or may not make sense unless you speak otter. I also like my sugar with coffee and cream.