No doubt you have encountered the ‘know-it-all.’ A person, who projects that she/he ‘knows-it-all’ is usually afraid of listening because she/he is afraid of anything new and so they do not allow any new information to come their way. She/he seems to know everything about anything that is brought up and tends to dominate the conversation. They feel uncomfortable with questions regarding their premise and seldom acknowledge if they are incorrect on a topic or concept.
Many people, who have a ‘know-it-all,’ persona; whether a Webster definition, or who pretends to know; have one personality trait in common, narcissism. Hidden behind the need to let the world know exactly how smart, funny, interesting or great she/he is, is the need to convince him/herself of their value. All know-it-alls suffer from a lack of self-confidence, and what they seek, through their tireless efforts to impress, is usually the need for approval and validation. As a result, the know-it-all chooses to surround him/herself with friends, and mates who are appreciative – and maybe even admiring of his/her ‘knowledge.’
Furthermore, children are indoctrinated and conditioned to have doubts about their self-worth that is historically tied to grades or the approval of certain authority figures. Therefore, the know-it-all has an intense need to put her/his knowledge and wisdom on display.
Communicating with a ‘know-it-all’ is inevitably tiring because there is no shared synergy between each other. Rather, you become an audience to this person’s need to be the authority and center of attention. Attention and respect are the two things humans long for, and at some point, they learn that knowing it all was the way to achieve those needs. Over time, they become stuck in this pattern, regardless of the fact that it no longer works. They are afraid of the experience of listening, being receptive, or learning something new, because it is unfamiliar.
Coupled with indoctrination and conditioning children are sometimes victims of emotional abandonment and inattention. Many know-it-alls have grown up with a deep sense of worthlessness and possibly being shamed. As a result their life’s mission often become showing the world exactly how smart and valuable they are.
On the one hand, when you see the childlike need underneath the ‘know-it-all’ mask of confidence, you feel compassion for him/her. You may decide to continue to tolerate the one-sided conversation out of a desire not to hurt their feelings. On the other hand, you may feel drained and tempted to avoid this person altogether. In the middle of these two possible feelings, you may genuinely like him/her and wish for a closer relationship. When you come from a place of kindness, you might want to bridge the gap that his/her habitual way of relating creates.
When you express a desire to be close to a ‘know-it-all,’ by opening your heart you also open their heart, to give him/her a chance to ask you what you need in the relationship. She/he has a chance to contribute more fully to a give and take relationship. What do you have to lose?
If someone you know is a ‘know-it-all,’ patience might be the best antidote. Be mindful of acknowledging his/her knowledge on a topic, without encouraging an unrestricted flow of information that is designed simply to make him/her feel better. However, also avoid being rude or mean about their verbal discourse. If you feel comfortable expressing how you experience their discourse as a ‘know-it-all’ rant, do so kindly and gently.
As much as you might like to make fun of know-it-alls, everyone has, at one time or another, indulged in this syndrome. There is a little ‘know-it-all’ in everyone. The key is monitoring oneself to know when to continue the dialogue or stop. If the person continues to ask questions you can answer each question, clear, concise and direct. If the person listens passively keep it short and sweet – consider your discourse as ‘TMI’ – Too much information for him/her. Remember: Less is more. Monitor the response from your audience whether it is one or a thousand.
Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD, Metaphysician – Certified Hypnosis Practitioner, Author and Speaker. Dr. Dorothy facilitates clearing blocks, fears and limiting beliefs. You can live the life you desire. She brings awareness to concepts not typically obvious to one’s thoughts and feelings. https://drdorothy.net