Anatomy of a Know-It-All
An online dictionary defines a know-it-all as, “a person who acts as though he or she knows everything and who dismisses the opinions, comments, or suggestions of others.” And just about every know-it-all chooses a smart-ass delivery for their message. It’s as if they sense that their knowledge would be accepted better if delivered in a joking manner.
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Not only does the smart-ass know-it-all want you to believe they’re the only one who is right, they’d also like everyone else to feel stupid. (Isn’t that special?) Therefore, most know-it-alls come equipped with the gift of “witty repartee,” also known as a smart-ass comeback to any argument, rebuttal or challenge to their insight.
Know-it-alls are basically control freaks who can’t be controlled. You can’t really beat them at their own game, so as the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Handle the know-it-all in your life by doing exactly what they would do to counteract snarky, know-it-all sarcasm aimed at them:
Suggestion No. 1: Laugh
As mentioned earlier, know-it-alls can be dismissive and what better way to dismiss someone then to laugh in their face. By doing this you’re basically scoffing at their notion of being right—ouch. Of course this means war, but it is an option if you’re prepared for battle.
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Suggestion No. 2: Ignore
Ignoring someone can be as equally dismissive as laughing at them; it’s just more passive-aggressive. Again, this suggestion may elicit a not-so-nice response. After all, you are lowering yourself to the know-it-all’s level, so you have to be prepared for anything that comes your way. Game on?
Suggestion No. 3: Agree
Agreeing with your know-it-all is more of a win-win alternative. If you just agree with them then you 1) save yourself the trouble of having to come up with a counteraction, and 2) they get their way, rendering them (temporarily) speechless. Know-it-alls are out to prove a point, but what can they possibly say once you’ve agreed with them. Uh … nothing. Of course, if they are proven right, you may never hear the end of it. However if proven wrong, the joy of seeing a know-it-all knocked down a peg or two is something you can quietly relish like a fine wine.
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It Takes One to Know One
You may be asking yourself how I know so much about dealing with know-it-alls. Well, as that other famous saying goes: “It takes one to know one,” although, I consider myself more of a smart-ass than a know-it-all. All of us at one time or another feel sure we know more than someone else or everyone else. Everyone plays the know-it-all game at least once in life (that’s a generous estimation).
Everyone’s a Know-it-All
When we’re young, being a know-it-all is a way of testing boundaries. When we’re in our mid-teens to mid-twenties, it’s almost a rite of passage to be the expert on everything. But after that, being a know-it-all can often be annoying to others. In a way, you almost want to feel sorry for a grown-up know-it-all. You see how hard they’re working to prove themselves and overcome some insecurity(ies). This leaves us with a more sensitive approach to handling the know-it-all in your life:
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Suggestion No. 4: Compassion
Ask your know-it-all why they always feel the need to be right and assure them that they have nothing to prove to you. If they’re right, they’re right. And if they’re wrong, they should just gracefully accept it and not expect that you’ll judge them or look at them like they have two heads. Show compassion and let them know that whether they’re right or wrong, nothing changes. Then their know-it-all attitude merely becomes an opinion, and everyone has an opinion. Trust me; I’m right about this one.