Workplace Know-it-All

Almost every workplace has a “ Know it all”.   Someone who thinks they know the correct way to run a lab/office, the correct way to measure anatomy, down to the right way to scan patients.  They are the first person to weigh in at meetings and have an opinion that make sure is heard and the first one to speak out when they think you are wrong.

So what do you do if you love your job but can’t stand this type of colleague/irritant? This is where emotional intelligence comes in. As tempting as it may be, you can’t say, “Thanks, but you’re wrong,” and walk away.  Experts say it’s better to find strategies for working with the office know-it-all.

Difficult as it may be, you need to keep your aggravation in check. As soon as you see the office know-it-all’s mouth open, resist the urge to roll your eyes into the back of your head. Instead, try to find some common ground.  When we focus on what we agree with, it makes it easier to listen to what [the know-it-all] has to say, and it connects us on an emotional level in a positive way.

By removing the negative emotion from our observation, we lessen our frustration and instead learn something about why the know-it-all chooses to constantly self-promote.

“I have great ideas, but no one ever takes my ideas seriously,” he meditates on during meetings—while interrupting you to make sure people hear his opinion.  In that case, acknowledging the person’s ideas will likely establish a better working relationship.

When we listen without an agenda, we can begin to understand what makes the know-it-all tick, we can identify triggers for their behavior and know how to avoid them.

Address the elephant in the conference room. When you know you’re going to have to work with an office know-it-all on a project (and are totally dreading it).  State your intention: ‘I’d like to work on this project collaboratively, and I know we won’t always agree. I’d like the work to be a reflection of both of our ideas.

Sometimes you will just have to be very direct.  Conveying to your coworker that although they have very strong opinions and  you admire that, but that you feel cut off and dismissed when they insist that they are right or are not willing to compromise or collaborate with you.

Don’t argue or look to butt heads, as that will only frustrate both of you. In a team meeting, offer your point of view and ideas, but don’t make it about rebutting their ideas. Keep a mental note on how this particular type of person operates and remember there is enough space in the workplace for both of you.


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