A Chance To Contribute
Disarming The Know-It-All
Most of us have encountered a person in our lives who can accurately be referred to as a know-it-all. This person seems to know everything about anything that gets brought up and tends to dominate the conversation. They don’t take well to being questioned, and they have a hard time ever admitting that they were wrong.
Being around a know-it-all is inevitably tiring because there is no shared energy between the two of you. Rather, you become an audience member to this person’s need to be the center of attention. Attention and respect are probably the two things this person most longs for, and at some point in their lives, they learned that knowing it all was the way to get those needs met. Over time, they have become stuck in this pattern, regardless of the fact that it is no longer working. They may feel afraid of the experience of listening, being receptive, or learning something new, because it’s so unfamiliar.
On the one hand, when we see the childlike need underneath the know-it-all’s mask of confidence, we feel compassion for the person, and we may tolerate their one-sided approach to conversation out of a desire not to hurt their feelings. On the other hand, we may be feeling drained and tempted to avoid this person altogether. In the middle of these two possible ways of feeling, we may actually like this person and wish for a closer relationship. If we come from a place of kindness, we might attempt to bridge the gap that this person’s habitual way of relating creates. Simply expressing a desire to be closer may open their heart, and give you a chance to ask for what you need in the relationship—a chance to contribute.