How to Handle a Know-It-All

know it all

We all have at least one of these types in our lives: Someone who, no matter the subject matter, appears to know everything about everything.  It can be difficult to have a meaningful conversational exchange with people like this, especially if they happen to live under the same roof as we do, or occupy the same work space. You’ve probably asked the question of how to handle a know-it-all, and it’s a tough one to answer.

For those family members who always interject their own opinion – or, what they may call “experience” or “wisdom” – on every subject brought up, it’s particularly difficult to get around. I mean, they are family, right? Personally, I’ve found that it can become a little game to bring up as many subjects as possible to keep that type of person on their toes, until they stumble, but that’s not always the kindest route to take. Probably the most fun, but not the most considerate, I admit that.

There’s always the option to just smile and nod, and allow him or her to just continue to talk incessantly, but there always comes a point where it becomes too much. If the person is approachable, take the person aside and kindly let him know that, while his input is appreciated, it’s not always warranted. Some people just want to talk it out – get it out of their system – and not be lectured or “taught” anything at the moment. If advice is wanted, it will be asked for, but to always blurt out information when it’s not requested encroaches on one’s need to just be heard.

For work environments, sadly, there is often far less flexibility. What’s worse is when a know-it-all rears her head in every single meeting that takes place, often extending said meeting far, far longer than anyone wanted it to go. Office politics usually comes into play in situations like this, so you may have to play the game to have the issue addressed in a proper manner.

As long as the culprit isn’t your boss, take a little time to discuss the distraction the office know-it-all brings to you and your productivity. Taking this approach, by addressing the professional repercussions versus the personal, will see results faster than if you were to say just what a pain in the butt it is overall. While dealing with an office associate that pulls her “pearls of wisdom” out at every opportunity, it’s best to handle it through the appropriate hierarchy, just to cover your butt.

Now, if the culprit is your boss…well, there’s always the option to dust off your resume, or you just have to suck it up and incorporate the aforementioned smiling and nodding.

No matter what you choose to do with those in your family or office who always seem to know it all, try to be kind. This type of behavior is often a sign of some serious lack of confidence, so don’t slam them. That will only make things worse. Try to be gentle with them, and perhaps they will be gentle back – and hush up a little more than normal.

How have you handled a know-it-all in your life?

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