6 Ways to Deal With the Know-It-All in Your Life
If they really knew it all, they wouldn’t be insecure about it.
When you’re in a relationship with a know-it-all, it can be an aggravating experience. You fight to get a word in; you feel as if your answers aren’t valid, and no matter what you do, you can’t stop them from monopolizing every conversation with their ‘splaining.’
You find yourself shutting down and appearing insignificant, so your big-brain-bragger can continue with their non-stop show of all their learning and expertise.
Dealing with a know-it-all can be exhausting.
How do you live, work, and exist with a know-it-all without losing yourself in the process?
Everybody has at least one know-it-all in their life, whether it’s a co-worker, a boss, or a significant other, and it’s hard to know how to deal with them.
At first, you find their vast knowledge as a positive characteristic — it’s great to have a human-encyclopedia in your life, but when they live to correct you or don’t give you a chance to show your expertise, things between you can get tense.
Compulsively answering every question is problem behavior.
You don’t need to be a know-it-all to be intelligent, educated, and a problem solver. The problem is know-it-alls tend to forget other people are intelligent and informed.
It’s frustrating when someone asks you a question, and before you can say anything, the know-it-all steps in and answers it for you. Sometimes they do this because they assume you don’t know the answer, and other times, they can’t stop themselves.
Know-it-alls can have trouble working with other people.
If there’s a group project or a team-focused task, a know-it-all may have difficulty allowing everyone to participate equally or might not trust the abilities and knowledge of the other members of the group.
Know-it-alls sometimes take the credit for what the team has completed and will fail to acknowledge the other members' work. Egos can get bruised, and the know-it-all will find that they have a reputation of being hard to work with, domineering, and not a team-player.
Being in a relationship with a know-it-all has its own set of challenges.
Their impulsive behavior can put a strain on a relationship. No one likes to feel like their opinion doesn’t matter or is treated as an unknowledgeable child.
If you’re in a relationship with a know-it-all, you may not feel as if your input isn’t wanted or required. How can you contribute to any discussion concerning your relationship and its future, when there’s no room for your voice?
There’s a big difference between know-it-alls and people who’re comfortable with their intelligence.
When someone has an overwhelming need to be the smartest person in the room and will do almost anything to prove it — it could be a sign they’re anxious about how much they do know.
People who are gifted intellectually accept the idea there’s much they don’t know, and they get excited about any opportunity to learn more. It’s much better to be a life-long-learner than a know-it-all.
Know-it-alls are often arrogant and don’t care what effect their behavior has on other people, even those they’re close to.
Know-it-alls are frustrating.
Everyone has experienced a know-it-all before in their lives — it might be a co-worker, a family member, or even a random person.
Know-it-alls can wear you down and it can be tempting to remove them from your life. You have to ask yourself if they’d be willing to change if they knew how you felt, or if their other qualities balanced out their know-it-all tendencies.
I have a brilliant friend who responds to almost every statement of fact any other person makes with “No,” such as, “No, Live Aid wasn’t in 1985,” or “No, Stephen Hawking wasn’t married.”
When she’s proven wrong, she dismisses it as if some magical forces rallied against her and changed the facts to make her look bad.
She’s intelligent and educated, but she doesn’t know everything. She would be easier to get along with if she’d admit when she’s wrong or if she’d held back on constantly correcting people.
Other people are allowed to be right, even if it makes you wrong.
When you tell people they’re wrong all the time; it doesn’t endear you to them. It’s much better to encourage someone and help them find the answers on their own — rather than shooting them down and making them feel stupid.
Battling over the last word.
Know-it-alls need to get in the last word in an argument or regular conversation. Having the final creates a false impression that everything they said before is validated.
It can be fun to tease them, let them believe they’ve had the last word, and then as they’re walking out the door, say something. Now you’ve flipped the last-word-status back to you. However, it’s not kind to toy with someone to get a reaction out of them, and it’s better to let them think they’ve succeeded in having the final say.
If your relationship is worth working on, there are ways you can deal with a know-it-all without ruining your relationship.
Have a sense of humor.
Please don’t take their need to be right all the time personally. It may feel at times as if they’re trying to make you feel stupid, but it’s actually about their own insecurity.
Humor is a great equalizer, and you may be able to get your know-it-all to laugh at themselves and relax a little. Show them how ridiculous it is to try to convince people that they know everything.
Ask questions, but in a non-confrontational way.
You’re not trying to show them up or prove to them their lack of knowledge — just the opposite. Draw them out, have a conversation, and get them to listen to what you have to say.
Remind your know-it-all, gently, that you have thoughts, opinions, and perspectives entirely separate from them, but are still valid. You want to help expand the know-it-all’s mental library of information, not attack them.
Encourage them not to know the answer.
Being super knowledgeable can go from a helpful character trait to another kind of pressure. Know-it-alls may feel like they have to know every answer because something bad can happen if they don’t.
If you demonstrate to the know-it-all that not knowing the answer won’t make the world collapse in on itself. More knowledge and practical answers come from mistakes, experimenting, and not knowing the answers ahead of time.
Let your big-brain-bragger know you appreciate their abilities and their encyclopedic knowledge. They don’t have to remind you or prove to you constantly they’re super smart — you already aware of their mental gifts.
Sometimes all anyone needs is an acknowledgment of the qualities which make them special.
Treat them with kindness.
Showing off all your knowledge is a defense mechanism. Know-it-alls aren’t stupid; they know they can sometimes be alienating with their desire to treat every situation as if it were a quiz show, but they can’t help themselves.
Try being extra kind and compassionate to your know-it-all. The more they annoy you, the nicer you get, until they start to relax and pull down some of their walls.
Sometimes demonstrating patience and kindness can help build trust.
If killing them with kindness doesn’t work and your know-it-all keeps steamrolling you with facts, figures, and all possible answers, then you need to talk to them and let them know what you will and won’t tolerate.
Relationships shouldn’t one-person shows where one person spouts information while the other person listens without speaking. A relationship involves mutual give and take, and each partner should feel that their opinions and answers are valued.
Relationships are about sharing, working together, and building trust. If your partner continually talks over you, interrupts, or acts as if your opinion or information isn’t wanted, you need to tell them how you’re feeling, what changes you’d like to see happen, and how you refuse to be treated as if you’re not very smart.
If your know-it-all isn’t willing to adapt to your relationship, then they aren’t brilliant at all.