Know-It-Alls can be good to have around. When you’re new in town and need to find a good meal, a Know-It-All will tell you exactly where to find the best steak in town. Or sushi, or chili, or burritos. They know it. All.
Can you really trust the advice you get from these people? After all, they are so busy talking, when do they have time to listen and learn all the stuff they take credit for knowing?
The other problem with Know-It-Alls is that they often show up uninvited. You can’t just vent around them. Have a complaint about your job? They know just what to do. Relationship issues? A Know-It-All knows someone with the same problem. Feeling blue? Need a vacation? Dog shitting in the house? Whatever it is, your personal Know-It-All has an answer.
Below I have listed five common Know-It-Alls. You will find key phrases to signal an encounter, and an exit strategy for each situation.
Key Phrase: You (They) just don’t get it . . .
There is no such thing as a third opinion. There is his and the wrong one.
- Beware, this person will start orating without finding out what side of the discussion you are on. You are, by association, on the Know-It-All’s side unless you speak up otherwise. Never get into a debate with the this Know-It-All. There is no reasoning with him. He will only circle your discussion right back to where it began. If, by that time, you don’t agree with him, you just don’t get it. Smile knowingly and nod.
Key Phrase: Oh! My (mom, brother, co-worker . . . ) had that . . .
If your Know-It-All has not personally experienced your problem, then surely he knows someone who has.
- He is willing to give your name, address and social security number to his (mom, brother, co-worker . . . ), so that you can benefit from their experience. Please note, this person doesn’t want to tell you their personal problems any more than you want to hear them. Tell the Know-It-All that you already do have a dear (friend, sister, therapist . . . ) with whom you are working. Assure him you are getting excellent advice. Close your eyes and nod gratefully.
The Head Hunter
Key Phrase: I’ve actually worked as a . . .
This Know-It-All has worked at every job imaginable.
- It doesn’t matter what you do, your Know-It-All understands exactly how you can get promoted, work the system, or get hired at her company. You have to wonder why she’s held so many jobs. Maybe she gets fired a lot. Bosses don’t like people who think they know more than they are. Put on your best listening face. Let her talk. When there’s a nice pause, tell her you will think about that. If it comes up again, you can repeat that you are still thinking about it. If necessary, repeat indefinitely.
The Guidance Counselor
Key Phrase: Here’s what you need to do . . .
Your Know-It-All wants you to follow in her footsteps.
- The Guidance Counselor wants to tell you where you should go to college, what courses to take, how many credits is workable, and how to survive cafeteria pizza. If your Know-It-All has slipped a little money in a grad card, you should probably at least shake his hand. Just make sure you have a full beer in the other. In a couple hours you will probably find them pretty entertaining.
The Tour Guide
Key Phrase: Have you never been to . . . ?
He’s been everywhere and knows the best route to take.
- Maybe you want to take the scenic route. Maybe you just want to get quietly from point A to B. It doesn’t matter. The Tour Guide is going to tell you how to get there, something about everything along the way, and exactly where to park. How the hell did you ever find your way to the bathroom without your personal Tour Guide? Unless you want someone to tell you when to look out the left side of the bus, and when to look out the right, ride solo.
Here’s the deal. Experience being the best teacher, you are never going to learn anything from a Know-It-All that you can’t learn better on your own. My favorite finds have been where no one else was looking. And if you find one of these people sounds a little too familiar, maybe you should stop talking and start listening.
Peace . . .