12 Ways To Deal With People Who Think They Know Everything

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Know-it-alls get a bad rap, but there are actually two types of them in the world.

The first type of know-it-all is the group many consider themselves a part of. They are students of life who are never satisfied with not knowing. When they find a gap in their knowledge, they dig in and educate themselves.

These people tend to be good listeners, have a great sense of humor, don’t take themselves too seriously, and offer constructive feedback.

The other type of people we call "know-it-alls" are the ones we all love to hate.

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These people think they know everything, despite being willfully ignorant and having a limited range of knowledge. They have done no research, haven’t asked a single question, and are not remotely curious, but somehow believe they have the answer to every problem, big or small.

These know-it-alls are not really listening to anything anyone has to say. They are simply waiting for you to finish so they can bombard you with unsolicited advice.

So, how do you deal with these people?

12 Ways To Deal With Know-It-Alls

There are several ways to deal with condescending people who think they know everything. Here are 12 solutions to the know-it-all problem in your life.

1. Stand your ground.

Know-it-alls are good at using peer pressure to gain agreement from those around them. Anyone who doesn’t join their movement might be ganged up on and left out in the cold.

Don’t fall into the trap of getting into a back and forth with them because you cannot win. Take a deep breath, stand your ground, and check out of the conversation to avoid getting into an argument.

2. Worry about yourself.

People who think they know everything seem to know exactly what you should be doing with your life. They have all of the solutions to your problems, even as their own life is spiraling out of control.

Rather than getting annoyed, allow their input to roll off your back. You are the best person to know what works for you. Let their advice go in one ear and out the other.

3. Set boundaries.

It might be helpful to set strict boundaries with people who have none. These rules should be based around their actions and behaviors and not so much their words.

Let them know that you hear them but need them to give you space to come to your own conclusions. There’s no guarantee they will listen but at least you put it out there.

4. Don’t take anything personally.

A person that has a need to prove they are more knowledgeable than everyone else is suffering from their own self-esteem and confidence issues.

Instead of taking anything they say personally, avoid getting offended. Change your perspective to one of empathy. Imagine always having to prove your worth and know it is not you, it is them.

5. Give them a wake-up call.

Getting into a debate with a know-it-all is far from ideal. They may say rude things that make you want to engage in a negative way, but don’t.

Try telling them what impact their actions are having on you and let them know what repercussions you are prepared to put into place if their behavior continues.

6. Get empowered.

Know-it-alls can see your sense of uncertainty from a mile away. Your lack of confidence and doubt is like a "welcome" sign, inviting them over for an excruciating interaction.

Work on yourself to build confidence in your ability to make good decisions about your own life. We all have the power within ourselves to be our absolute best. It is time you harnessed yours.

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7. Be specific when talking to them.

People who wish to give the perception of genius are vague in their responses, making grand statements and generalizations that are hard to combat. They might even try and deter you from digging deeper with statements like “everyone knows that.”

Throw them off-kilter by asking for specifics. There is nothing more shadily fun than watching a smartypants crack under the pressure.

8. Don’t take them too seriously.

Remember that boy on the playground who used to snatch your ponytail for attention? Or that girl in high school who piled on the makeup to set herself apart from the rest of the young ladies?

A know-it-all is of the same mindset. They want you to fall into destructive patterns of arguing with them or getting upset. If you choose to consciously ignore them, they will move on to more attentive prospects.

9. Show them some grace.

We already know that people who purport to know it all are no reflection on you. They are struggling with their sense of self and need to be validated for their intelligence.

It is perfectly okay to let them get away with doing too much from time to time. Show empathy and give them the pat on the back they are looking for. It is a nice gesture and less stressful than becoming annoyed.

10. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Trying to compete with a know-it-all is a lose-lose situation. They are not open to input, and you will never convince them that they are wrong about anything.

Ask them to collaborate on a project and give them free reign to lead the charge. This compels them to put up or shut up. They get a chance to see if they are really as well-versed as they seem to think they are.

11. Have some respect for yourself.

Know-it-alls walk all over people that allow them to. They can make you feel like less than or disrespect you in ways they would never tolerate themselves.

It is important that you let them know what you will and will not put up with. This is especially vital in romantic relationships where the dynamic could easily lead to different forms of abuse.

12. See them for who they are.

When you peel back the abrasive layers of a person who thinks they are the smartest guy or girl in every room, you will notice that, deep down, they are still a vulnerable, immature person in need of recognition.

Positively reinforce the healthy things they do to build a relationship with you. When dysfunctional behavior arises, enforce your boundaries and ignore them. Eventually, they will notice and adjust.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.