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How to Deal with Know-It-Alls in 4 Steps

We all know that one person at work or in our family, who is always offering their opinion about everyone and everything, and believes that their way is the right way. Know-it-alls think they know everything. Moreover, they are often dismissive of others’ opinions, are unwilling to listen to others, and love to tell everyone how to do their job. The question is, how to deal with them? In this post, I’ll explain 4 effective ways to respond to know-it-alls in a polite way. As a result, you will not only learn how to put them in their place but also how to avoid sounding like a know-it-all yourself.

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We all know that one person at work or in our family, who is always offering their opinion about everyone and everything, and believes that their way is the right way. Know-it-alls think they know everything. Moreover, they are often dismissive of others’ opinions, are unwilling to listen to others, and love to tell everyone how to do their job. The question is, how to deal with them? In this post, I’ll explain 4 effective ways to respond to know-it-alls in a polite way. As a result, you will not only learn how to put them in their place but also how to avoid sounding like a know-it-all yourself.

Without a doubt, if you want to cut a know-it-all off, it is tempting to say something along the lines of “How do you know so much about things you know nothing about?” But please, don’t. While it may be true, it can sound insulting and counterproductive. Similarly, biting your tongue when they start talking down to you is also not the best idea as it won’t change a thing.

So what to do instead? Follow the steps below and let opinionated people know that their comments are not the final word. Speak up politely and powerfully, and feel good that you responded. If you’re interested in learning more about effective communication, check out my courses or get in touch.

1. Ask for an explanation

Firstly, ask specific questions about their sources, facts, or experience. You should not be afraid to confront a know-it-all about their expertise or authority. However, make sure you do it respectfully. You can say something like:

  • What data do you have to support that position?

  • How do you know that?

  • How do you know that to be true?

 2. Agree to disagree and move on

Secondly, if you get trapped in a debate with a know-it-all, then it is probably better to “agree to disagree” and move on. Engaging in a further debate would only prolong the discussion and waste your time. You can say something like:

  • It appears that we have different opinions about this matter, so let’s just agree to disagree.

3. Do not take it personally

Thirdly, know-it-alls often cannot help themselves because they think they are doing you a favour by informing or correcting you. Therefore, try not to take it personally. Take a few deep breaths and take time to think about your response instead.

4. Laugh it off

Finally, my favourite approach of all. The best thing you can do is to lighten the mood and change the subject. For example, say something along the lines of “I want you as a friend and not as a school teacher. Now put your glasses on the shelf and let’s grab a coffee, the class is over!” Alternatively, you can encourage them to write a book!

To sum it up, regardless of which approach you choose, make sure you look the person in the eye and do not have a negative tone in your voice. Also, recognise that either approach may lead to a discussion. Therefore, be open to considering other points of view. Sometimes even “know-it-alls” can be right or have a valid point. You might learn something after all.

If you want more tips on how to communicate effectively, check out my classes. For more personalised help, I’m also available for 1-on-1 sessions.

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