How to Deal With a Workplace Know-it-all


How to Deal With a Workplace Know-it-all

Every workplace has one, the snooty, abrasive, in your face know-it-all. They’re the first person to tell you how to do your job but also the last person to offer any kind of constructive help.

They saunter around the office with a false sense of importance, convinced that they have more connections and authority than you. 

They have an answer to every question and a solution for every problem (no matter how ill-advised).

Unfortunately, every single employee will have to deal with this kind of person at least once in their career. Here are some of our top tips for dealing with a workplace know-it-all. 

Acknowledge their ideas and opinions

Yes, this coworker is probably very annoying but you need to remember that their behaviour is the result of something bigger. 

A know-it-all attitude usually stems from confidence or personal issues. They just want to be heard and appreciated. Instead of getting angry, try being empathetic instead.

If they suggest a good idea let them know that their advice was helpful. Often acknowledgement is all they are seeking. Sometimes a simple compliment can limit their know-it-all tendencies. 

Don’t take it personally

Sure, it’s embarrassing when a colleague pulls you up in front of your team or points out a mistake when your boss is in earshot but don’t take it to heart. It’s not a personal attack on your character. Remember that this is a reflection on them, not you.

Don’t lose your sense of humour by getting dragged down in office politics. Often, the best approach is to smile and quickly move on to the next topic.


Be clear about your role

To avoid coworkers stepping on your toes make sure that everyone on your team has clearly defined roles and tasks. If you can, get these in writing. Call a team meeting and talk through each person’s responsibilities. 

That way if they try to take over your tasks you can calmly state “That project is under my remit, not yours.” Get rid of any ambiguity ASAP. 

Give feedback

Know-it-alls often do not realise that their behaviour is counterproductive. In fact, they may be totally unaware of how their actions can affect their coworkers. 

Don’t be afraid to give constructive feedback. Encourage them to allow others to speak. Remind them when their negative comments become inappropriate or harsh. Above all demand a culture of respect in your workplace. 

Do your homework

If you’re giving a presentation, writing an important report or leading an important meeting make sure that you’ve done your research. Double check your findings and always back up your facts. The more prepared you are, the less likely a know-it-all will be able to pick holes in your work. Be proactive in protecting yourself from any criticism. 

Don’t doubt yourself

Don’t let this pesky co-worker get under your skin. Remember that you were hired for a reason. Their nit-picking and constant questioning can become tedious but if you are confident in your own abilities then you shouldn’t allow their behaviour to make you feel inferior.

Keep working hard and trying your best. At the end of the day, the results will speak for themselves.

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