How To Deal With People Who Think They Know Everything
By Joy Youell
Updated November 07, 2019
Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault
The world is full of all kinds of people. Some people can challenge your peace of mind. If you have a coworker, a family member, or a friend who acts like they know everything, you may struggle to communicate or connect with that person. Read more to understand why they act this way and how you can still have a relationship with them.
We've all been around someone who is convinced or, more than likely, just trying to convince themselves that they have the answer to every question thrown their way. We often call these people "know-it-alls." People who think they know everything can ruin a good day if you let them. It can be exhausting to be around someone who refuses to acknowledge that they're human just like everyone else. They might try to make you feel bad about yourself if you don't know something or might even jump in to answer a question without giving you a chance.
These people tend to be judgmental, harsh, and overbearing. They often take over conversations and congratulate themselves when they appear to be wiser than you. What's tricky is that sometimes you can't avoid these people altogether. If you work with people who have these traits, you might be forced to interact with them, no matter how frustrating their behavior. The good news is that there are ways to deal with said people without compromising your own values and wellbeing.
How to Deal With a Know-It-All
The American Management Association discusses scenarios in the workplace where either bosses or employees embody this unfortunate trait. Their recommendation is to always have understanding as a goal, so you can default to positive thinking and communication.
Being around someone like this can trigger complicated feelings. People who pose as superior can make us feel annoyed, angry, inferior, or insecure. No one benefits from these challenging interactions, but there are multiple ways to prevent them from derailing your peace of mind. Here are some tips.
Maintain Peace of Mind
When you are tempted to feel angry or upset after interacting with someone like this, take care to not let those feelings dominate your mind or heart. Anger is often a catalyst for change, but this is not usually the case if you're dealing with a know-it-all. No one would blame you for feeling angry when you're around someone who constantly needs to show off. There is nothing wrong with experiencing anger; it's a natural emotion. However, we want to be mindful of how we use anger.
Letting feelings of irritation or anger pass helps you focus on the reality of the situation. When you calmly pay attention, you may be able to more clearly see the pushiness and verbal tricks they use in their effort to make you feel small. Noticing these subtle behaviors may give you more power to deal with them appropriately.
This might sound easier said than done, but it takes time and practice to be able to control your reactions. It helps to physically leave the space, take a deep breath, and reset. You only have a limited amount of time and energy in a day, so you want to make sure that you're using it on things that are important to you and in areas of your life that you can control, not on someone who is trying to hurt you because of their own struggles.
Realize It's Not About You
It helps to understand that know-it-all behavior likely isn't personal. People who behave this way are doing so to cope with their own feelings or internal issues. This has probably been a long-standing pattern in their life that preceded your interactions with them. Secure people do not feel the need to belittle others in order to make themselves look better.
While it may seem like these people are out to get you, it's more likely they're so unhappy with themselves and have such poor coping skills that they have to tear you down, so they can feel okay. This, of course, does not excuse their behavior, so don't be afraid to set boundaries.
Setting boundaries can be difficult, especially if you're not used to implementing them or if the other person has a strong personality. Keep in mind that setting boundaries isn't just for the other person; it's for you as well. You're letting that person know how you will and will not be treated. Since we know that we can't control others, we know they might not change their behavior when you set boundaries, but it's important for you to make your voice heard.
Avoid Debate and Arguments
People who think they know everything about you, your situation, and the world in general are typically skilled in debate. They have an answer for everything. People like this have learned how to construct arguments that suit their purposes. They're forceful in presenting their own arguments, but they're not open to your ideas.
Most times, it's better to avoid getting into an argument with them. It's natural for us to want to defend ourselves when we hear them say something that's false, but it's better to maintain perspective and not fall into the trap of endless debate. You can never really "win" with a know-it-all.
Always try and respond in kindness. Be the bigger person. If this person's superiority translates into a personal attack, do your best to remain unaffected. Set meaningful boundaries, and enforce them, but let comments or criticisms go in one ear and out the other.
Remind Yourself of Your Own Strengths
People who think too highly of their own opinion can try to make you feel worthless. Don't let them do that to you. Instead, remember your positive qualities. Remember that the person who's making you feel that way isn't the ultimate authority on everything. In fact, you are the only true authority on what's right for you. They are only one person, and if you take an honest inventory of your life, you'll likely find that you have a lot of support and don't need to worry about the person who is looking to hurt you. Remember your own strength, intelligence, and sound judgment. Recognizing what makes you valuable to yourself and others may help you avoid feelings of inferiority and inadequacy in these situations.
Learning about and acknowledging your own self-worth is a vital element of mental health. BetterHelp has counselors who can guide you on that journey. Whether you often feel small or unimportant or you simply need a counselor to cheerlead you into better self-talk, you can find qualified mental health professionals on BetterHelp. Use our online platform to connect with a therapist who can give you a convenient and consistent source of encouragement.
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Regular interactions with know-it-alls can be discouraging. You may even begin to struggle with feelings of competency or your own self-worth. While people like this may be a part of your daily life, you can change your responses and reactions to better cope with their behavior. Gaining important tools to protect your wellbeing is important. Take the first step today.