Do you have a coworker who thinks they know everything?
They believe they are the go-to person; the one with the special connections and authority. If there’s a problem, they have the solution; if there’s a question, they have the answer. They aren’t open to new ideas or collaborating — and they have strong opinions, which they deliver in an obnoxious manner.
Unfortunately, most employees encounter at least one know-it-all coworker or boss at some point in their career — and they’re not always the easiest people to work with.
It can be extremely difficult to work with a know-it-all because they are generally poor listeners, often thinking about what they are going to say next rather than hear what you are saying. Their mindset makes it hard to get through to them that their idea or solution might not be the best one.
The struggle to deal with a know-it-all taxes the mental strength and stamina of those around them. But you can survive!
Here are seven tips for dealing with a know-it-all coworker:
1. Be empathetic. This coworker may irritate you—but remember that the know-it-all attitude is probably stemming from a confidence issue or some deeper personal issue, so try to be empathetic instead of getting angry.
2. Pick your battles. There are times when your best response is to ignore their ‘helpful’ hints as much as possible. Deflecting their comments by simply saying “Thanks for the suggestion” will help shut the conversation down.
3. Be armed with your facts. If you are delivering a presentation or heading into a meeting, be confident in your own facts. Double-check your sources because the better armed you are with knowledge, the less likely that the know-it-all can interject or one-up you.
4. Keep your sense of humor. Know-it-alls can be highly defensive, and at times even aggressive. Although it’s highly tempting to use sarcasm with a know-it-all, this will undoubtedly backfire. Instead, take a deep breath, smile and laugh it off by reminding yourself that often their behavior is harmless and they don’t really mean anything by it.
5. Ask probing questions. Be respectful, but ask detailed questions. Asking pointed questions on specific details can teach a know-it-all over time that they need to have their facts in order before speaking out.
6. Offer constructive feedback. It’s possible that the know-it-all may be clueless about the impact of their behavior on others. If you suspect that’s the case, consider gently pointing this out during a private discussion away from the office. Remind them how important it is for less confident people than themselves to be able to speak up.
7. Avoid involving your boss (unless the know-it-all is truly threatening your success). If you must involve your boss, maintain a positive tone and instead of complaining about the person, focus on what you’re willing to do to make sure the work is done well.
At the end of the day, try to find a common interest with the know-it-all to form a human connection. This may loosen them up to become, for you at least, somewhat tolerable (or at least they may get out of the way so that you can get work done).
(written by: wc)