Conversational Gem: No one told me

A conversational gem is one of those oft-used expressions that can leave you stumped for a response, yet you know you should have one.

‘No one told me’ is one of these expressions.

It is used to excuse the user from knowing something. ‘No one told me I was meant to be at the meeting.’ ‘No one told me it was due in last Friday.’

What can be particularly irksome is when you know you have ‘shared’ the information with this person.

Now it could be a deliberate ploy to avoid responsibility on their part. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Let’s suppose you did provide the information yet they didn’t ‘get’ it. Why would that be? Here’s three reasons.

  • It wasn’t in a format that is useful to the person. For example, you sent them a written note when they would prefer to receive information verbally.
  • It wasn’t in their preferred information processing form. For example, you told them verbally, with much emphasis on seeing the picture, getting a clear image of what’s at stake, when they’d prefer to talk in terms of tuning into the idea and hearing the ring of truth.
  • You didn’t have their full attention at the time, nor gave a reason why it should be of interest to them.

But perhaps it is you who is saying ‘No one told me.’ Ask yourself:

  • Is this an excuse to not take responsibility for paying attention? It’s so much easier to blame other people for your ineptitude.
  • Could you make space for the possibility that you were told and chose not to notice, either consciously or unconsciously?
  • And if so, is this sufficient reason not to take action? Why stall discussion with this excuse; why not just get on with it?

Next time your mouth is about to utter the words, ‘No one told me,’ stop and ask yourself what value this is. Rather than insulting those who have told you (but you failed to notice), acknowledge your slip and move on.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.