Working With The Know-it-all

Young women at the office Question….who knows more about anything and is always right about everything?

My colleague Maria of course!  I have changed her name, but the person is real.  Being around Maria is exhausting for me.  If you have ever had a friend or co-worker who is a know-it-all  you understand what I am saying.

This type of person is one who claims to know everything and rejects advice or information from others about anything.  Trying to communicate with this personality type is very difficult to say the least.

Maria and I were at a work event recently.  Although I have been in our specialty field longer and in a more hands on way than Maria, you would not have been able to tell it if you were listening in on our conversation.

If I said “the sky was blue” she would say absolutely not, it is red.”  If I said “I needed to think about that” she would say, “why would you need to think about it, what I said is right.”  I think you get the idea.

I cannot help but wonder when I am with her, how does she think that she knows everything?  Who knows everything and is right about it?  I have known Maria for almost 10 years and she has always been this way.

I am thankful that it is only on a rare occasion that we are together.  I feel very bad for those who have to work with someone like this day-in-and-day-out.

When I knew I was going to be at this event with Maria I did a little research on how to handle the know-it-all.  I have attached a link to an article that has six very good tips on how to deal this personality type.

I tried these tips out and my experience was much better with Maria, at least for me.  Partially because I had some “tools” to use when interacting with Maria, and part was that I knew who I was dealing with and did not let her bother me as I had in the past.

Here are the six tips that the article suggested that I tried.  They made my encounter with Maria better.

1. I remained neutral and did not challenge her.

2. I laughed when she said I was wrong and agreed that maybe she was right. (Totally defused her).

3. I did not become emotionally involved with her.

4. When she made a point, I would ask where she got her information from.  Many times she could not tell me.  (This made her uncomfortable)

5. I knew the topic we were talking about better than she did.  You need to know your topic well with someone like this.

6. I would ignore her answers when possible and would move on and not engage her.

These tips did help me to have a better overall time when working with Maria.

Do you have any tips that work for you when dealing with this personality type that you could share?

We can learn so much from each other and the similar experiences we have had that can improve our day-to-day encounters with others.

Dealing with the know-it-all


9 thoughts on “Working With The Know-it-all

  1. Nods of recognition my end. To some extent I AM a know it all – been trying to curb that for a while now. My strategy is to engage that person in a topic they DO know a lot about. Ask penetrating questions so that you remain interested and they can reveal the full extent of their knowledge. Know it alls are afraid of being classed as ignorant and that’s why they take the stance they do. Once they realise they do actually know a lot about something and people around them acknowledge that openly, they feel less need to demonstrate it in areas that they really are ignorant of. Sometimes! 😉

    • Stu, I think you are a positive know-it-all then as you are trying to bring out the best in the person. Many know-it-alls are the insecure person who tries to “puff” themselves up and put down those that they are encountering by making them feel as though they know very little. Another thing about the negative know-it-all is that they have to have the last word and that their word is the final word. You my friend are a positive person, you may know a lot, but you are actually encouraging others to realize they have a lot to offer also.

      Have a great Friday!

  2. Tina,

    Boy do I know several folks like this, and in fact am related to a couple. Your tactics are perfect for dealing with these folks.

    Another thing I do when dealing with them is to remind myself this is their issue, not mine. They often are insecure and need to feel better about themselves by putting others down. It has nothing to do with my knowledge or abilities so I won’t let them make me feel inferior to them. I know what I’m an expert in better than they do.

    Have a great day!

    • Carol, great point about their being insecure. It is their problem and we do have to keep that in the back of our mind as we interact with them. How sad that they feel that they have to treat others as they are inferior to them. What a sad life… But we need to keep moving forward and not let them drag us down. You have a great Thursday!

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