How to Deal with Difficult People : The Know It All

In this episode, we’ll be looking at the “Know it All” and why staying curious in the conversation, is the secret weapon to defusing frustration. Also, in this episode :

  • The underlying issue behind the need for approval
  • Why getting to the root of behaviors is key to addressing them head on
  • Practical ways to show compassion while helping others become more self-aware

Welcome back to Mercytalk! We just kicked off our new series called, “How to Deal” and we’re talking about 5 different behaviors that most of us have had some sort of experience in dealing with (or struggled with ourselves) and how to address them in healthier ways.  Our prayer for this series is to openly talk about these issues instead of wishing they’d just disappear OR fix themselves. The truth is, we all need to look at where we’ve possibly played a role in unhealthy behaviors with our relationships and where we need to set boundaries.  As adults, no one is going to set healthy boundaries for us. That’s a decision we need to make for ourselves and as we move forward in this topic, you’ll hear us continually come back to this idea of boundaries.

This segways us perfectly into our next relational topic of the series, “The Know it All”. If you’ve had any experience in this area, you know it can feel like an exhausting competition of sorts. Often times, whatever you just said was either ignored, belittled, “one-up’d”. We’re also gonna share some tips for having better self-awareness to avoid this same behavior.

The “Know it All” can be explained as someone who thinks their experience, story or answer is always the right one and dismisses the input of others. As we dive into this topic, it’s also important to talk about why someone might feel like they are a “Know it All”. Just like we spoke about last month with the “Entitlement Cure”, a “Know it All” usually has an environment that shaped the way they relate to those around him/her. We talk about this all the time at Mercy but getting to the root of the issue (instead of just the annoying behavior), is key even in the smaller areas of life.

Now, this is something no-one likes to consider as a problem within themselves. So, before we talk about practical ways to deal with this behavior in others, here are some warning signs that you may be acting like a “Know It All”

  • Consuming most of the conversation time
  • Constant interrupting of others
  • The need to always have the “last word”
  • The urge to continually prove oneself with bigger, better stories, facts, etc…

These are helpful things to consider before having a conversation with someone else. Jesus said it perfectly in Matthew 7:3

Why would you focus on the flaw in someone else’s life and yet fail to notice the glaring flaws of your own? How could you say to your friend, ‘Let me show you where you’re wrong,’ when you’re guilty of even more? You’re being hypercritical and a hypocrite! First, acknowledge your own ‘blind spots’ and deal with them, and then you’ll be capable of dealing with the ‘blind spot’ of your friend.

Now, let’s talk about practical ways we can defuse our frustration with “know it alls”. Hopefully, by this point in the conversation, we have more compassion for these individuals and know several factors have helped to influence the way they’re behaving. So, what to do? Well, one very important thing to note is that the more defensive, excited and offended you allow yourself to become, the more a “know it all” will fight back. It’s a challenge they will gladly accept so take a deep breath and know that you don’t have to “win” anything here. You don’t even have to have the last word.

There’s a lady by the name of Mel Robbins who wrote a book called the “5 Second Rule” (talks a lot about dealing with procrastination/worry/anxiety) but she offers 3 tips for dealing with a “Know it All” that are really helpful. They are:

  • Do you even care what the person is talking/arguing about?
    • This will determine whether or not you have the energy to pursue the long road you may go down with this person.
  • Visualize throwing up.
    • This is gross but that’s often what people are doing when they are going off about things they know or don’t (some of it may not even be based in truth). It’s verbal vomit. Get out of the way. Give them plenty of space to get out what they want and then ask them, “anything else?” Eventually, they will get it all out.
  • Stay curious!
    • After they’ve gotten out what they want to say, keep your comments primarily in the form of questions. Questions concerning specific things they’ve said acknowledges you were listening, but also helps to clarify the information you heard.

We hope you’ve found today’s episode not only encouraging but incredibly practical. If you have any comments, concerns or ideas for future podcasts, feel free to send all feedback to us at mercytalk@mercymultiplied.com. Join us back here next week for more Mercytalk!