Just about every workplace has one person who believes he has a wealth of knowledge far superior than anyone else around him. This is a person quick to muscle his expertise based on the fact that in his mind, he is already conducted all the research so you should be listening intently to his words. In a Mr. Know It All’s mind, if you don’t take his advice, then you are an absolute fool.
For the purpose of this article I will use the masculine pronouns by referring to him and his, etc., but a “know it all” can be either male or female as you very well know.
The person who knows it all tends to not want to hear any input from any other person because he can make decisions without acquiring all the facts. Some of these folks actually do know quite a bit about many topics but oftentimes they make things up as they go along because they feel the need to constantly feel superior. When you speak to a person like this you can almost rest assured they can see your lips moving but they are not listening to what you have to say. Instead, they’re thinking about the information they are about to offer you and you can best believe that they believe it is the gospel truth.
If your boss is a Mr. Know It All this can cause severe problems that can limit productivity in the workplace. This is because they speak far more than they listen and workers feel like their input is not even worth considering. This causes the boss to miss important details almost intentionally from workers who have much to offer in terms experience and knowledge.
Being a Mr. Know It All oftentimes stems from deep-rooted insecurities. The person may think they are not smart enough, thin enough, articulate or sufficiently creative. So, they redirect these insecurities into words that make them feel special and important. Often times, a know it all is completely oblivious to how he is coming across to others.
So, what can you do about it? Instead of letting it drive you nuts, here are a few tips you can use to put up with someone who knows everything:
1. When the time is right, take the person aside and explain your observations. Be careful, however, because the Mr. Know It All might shrug you off believing he knows he’s right and that you are wrong about even pointing it out! Keep in mind the worst thing you can do is snicker or sneer every time this person is in your area. You never want to talk behind the person’s back, especially one who knows everything there is to know about everything on this planet.
2. Don’t fight them head on. You should know by now this person is always right and for you to try to convince him otherwise would be a futile attempt. Instead, agree with some of the things he says if he really is right and when you know he’s wrong, simply deflect his statements by saying, “Thank for pointing that out,” or “Thanks for the information.”
3. Be able to laugh it off. I’m sure you will find a Mr. Know It All can be defensive and sensitive if you direct comments at him or disagree with any of his statements or suggestions. Always remember that there are many people laughing at this person already so it would actually be a bad idea to laugh in his face and directly confront him by saying something like, “Dude, you are absolutely so wrong about that. And why is it that you always seem to know the answer to everything?” Instead, be tolerant and accept the fact that there’s nothing you could do or say that is going to change his mind unless he has some sort of an epiphany! It is not your job or responsibility to make him change unless he is a close personal friend, so don’t place false expectations on your situation.
4. Show empathy no matter how irritated you are. You have to understand that a Mr. Know It All probably has issues he cannot readily control. He probably needs some serious counseling or psychiatric help to overcome these issues. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to exhibit anger towards him. Almost always, he simply can’t help himself!
5. Accept the fact that you will probably not be able to change him. This doesn’t mean you should not try to help if this person is a good friend. If you continue to be frustrated, that may be a sign that you should just completely avoid this person altogether if you can.
I firmly believe anyone can change. If you are reading this and you suspect people around you think you are a Mr. Know It All, then you probably are!
It’s never too late to help a friend and in my experience, a person who knows everything change once someone points out his obvious shortcoming.
Here’s what I have found to be a great ice-breaker when the know it all is your friend. In a relaxed setting at a coffee shop or at lunch, calmly tell your friend you have noticed something about him that sticks out like a sore thumb. His response will be, “What? Tell me.” Play a little hard-to-get-information-out-of-you by saying, “No, you probably don’t want to hear what I have to say.” At this point, you know the suspense will be killing him at which time you can say, “Alright,” then go right into it. Be honest and forthcoming in a friendly way. Poke fun at him if you can to make him feel less embarrassed by saying something like, “Hey, Mr. Huffington Post, give me the rundown on all current news events in the world today.”