When It's Okay Or Not To Say "The Same Thing Happened To Me" In Conversations

If someone is telling you about something they've been through, perhaps a challenge that came up at work, and you've had a similar experience, it's often a natural impulse to want to say, "Yeah, the same thing happened to me." You'd like to show you understand what they're dealing with, and that you have some common ground.

However, people can worry it's not appropriate to mention they've gone through the same events as someone. They've heard it's a conversation mistake. Even if they have good intentions, they may hesitate because they think by bringing up their own experience it may seem like they're...

It is possible to come across like that, but it's not automatically rude and tactless to say, "I've had that happen too." It often can be a good, sensible way to show support and solidarity. Here are some quick suggestions on how to bring up your own related experiences most appropriately:

Mention the same thing happened to you, but only after listening to them first

After you've already heard them out, you could say something like, "I went through that last summer" or "That happened to me when I was a kid too." Since you've already listened to their account, you'll have a better sense of exactly how to respond. For example, if told you about getting some poor customer service, you may realize they're venting and want you to share a similar story of how you felt frustrated at a disrespectful employee, so they don't feel like their own reaction is out of line.

Say something similar happened to you, but then turn the discussion back to them

For example:

Briefly let them know you may have some sense of what it was like for them, but then show your intention to take the back seat and let them share. Once they're done it may make sense for you to tell them your story.

Tell them you went through the same broad experience, but then qualify how it may have been different for you

For example:

You can hedge your bet this way. If you share how it was for you, and it's the same for them, they may feel relieved or understood to know their experience matches. If things are playing out differently for them, you've shown you realize the event can unfold in multiple ways and won't jump to conclusions.

Avoid saying insensitive things

If you're already concerned about whether it's okay to say, "I've been through the same thing" or not, you may know these points already, but I'll still list them, even if it's as a short refresher:

In short, it's not automatically a mark against you if you say, "The same thing happened to me." People are often happy to hear they're not alone in what they're going through. Just use a bit of finesse in exactly how you mention it.