I know what you’re thinking: the best way to avoid a know-it-all is to stay away from really smart people! I suppose you could do that, but in my experience, the most intelligent people are also modest, kind and supportive. The old expression “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” is certainly true, because know-it-alls tend to be people with a less than expansive knowledge base. Read one book, and you’ll become insufferable; read an entire bookcase, and you’ll become more benevolent.
Man seems to have an innate desire to dominate others. As a child, we do it physically: taking advantage of our size to intimidate those who are smaller. As we get older and more mature, we soon realize that physical confrontation and intimidation is frowned upon in society, so in order to satisfy our baser instincts, some of us often resort to becoming intellectual bullies.
I think that all of us have suffered these intellectual bullies from time to time. At parties, they dominate the conversations by talking about themselves all the time. No matter what the topic of conversation, they somehow manage to make it revolve around them.
Some people also try to impress us with their vast knowledge. No matter what the topic, they always have an opinion, or they take great delight in educating us with facts and opinions. Not only that, they will usually ignore the often educated opinions of others.
I often wonder: How did these people learn so much in such a short time? I’ve spent much of my life listening far more than I speak, and I sill have much to learn. Larry King is credited with saying “I’ve never learned anything while my mouth was open”, so how did so much knowledge enter their brains especially since their mouths are open so often?
People like this used to frustrate me to no end, but a few years ago, I developed a way to deal with them. Now I don’t mind know-it-alls — in fact, I quite enjoy their company. If any of you are immensely knowledgeable about everything, then please let me know — we can hang out after this meeting!
I have found the secret to dealing with know-it-alls, which I will now share with you. All you have to do is create a subtle shift in the way you perceive these people, and all your resentment and frustration will disappear. Let me tell you how I did it.
We often refer to the present time as the information age. Information seems to be the new currency, and those who have it, are in a far better position than those who don’t. These days, knowledge is power.
Pretend that you have a friend who is immensely wealthy. Let’s also suppose that the only thing greater than your friend’s wealth, is his arrogance. All day long, he likes nothing better than to impress upon others how rich he is. He’ll walk up to you and say “Look at how rich I am! I’ll bet you wish that you were this rich don’t you?”. Then he’ll say “You don’t believe me do you? Well, let me demonstrate the vastness of my wealth. Do you see this $20 bill? Here — take it! It’s yours! It means nothing to me, because I am so unimaginably loaded! In fact, here, take another $20 — my treat!”.
I’m sure that we all wish we had friends like this. In my new way of thinking, the know-it-all is very much like our imaginary friend. He has so much knowledge, that he just gives it away to whoever will listen. All you have to do is treat the information like money. What he gives away, you accept, and add to your own storehouse of knowledge. The longer you listen to him, the more knowledgeable and informed you become, and the more powerful you become.
Another way to look at it is by imagining two armies fighting on either side of a field. One army is armed only with bows and arrows. As they volley their shots in the air, the other army does nothing but hold up their shields. In essence, the archers are handing their ammunition over to their opponents, to be used again! Can you think of a worse war strategy?
So, the next time you encounter a know-it-all, just stand there and listen, while he dispenses to you for free, that which he values most. He is giving away exactly what he feels makes him superior, and all you have to do is accept it, and become more knowledgeable and more powerful yourself.
So, to all know-it-alls out there, I will be more than happy to make your acquaintance; and the more knowledge you have to share, the happier I will be to listen to you!