Industry News

How do you handle situations where you warn someone of something, they don't listen, and then it happens?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How do you handle situations where you warn someone of something, they don't listen, and then it happens?

  • I proudly declare "I told you so!": 6%
  • I gently highlight: "We knew this could be an outcome or risk": 45%
  • I don't say anything then but make stronger warnings in the future: 12%
  • I try to figure out why they didn't listen to me in the first place: 21%
  • I just move on and don't say anything -- not listening was a choice: 16%

A gentle “I told you so.” A slight majority of respondents prefer to tell people “I told you so” when something goes wrong that they warned of previously. Most respondents choose to do so gently. Push yourselves beyond hindsight and think forward. Look at the 21% who try to understand why the person didn’t listen and combine that behavior with the 12% who make stronger warnings in the future. While it’s great to be right (and make sure other people know it), it’s even better to figure out how to be listened to in the future to prevent more issues down the road.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, which includes TITAN -- the firm’s e-learning platform. Previously, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a West Point graduate and author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."