The Problem With Know-It-Alls

Everybody knows them: People who know everything. At least, that’s what they believe.

I’m not the type who gets annoyed quickly. Really. I can’t think of many things that bother me.

I also don’t get annoyed with people. Sure, every time I see an idiot online promising you to make six figures with six months, I raise my eyebrow. And yes, I don’t like judgemental people—who does?

But I don’t see the point with getting upset about 99% of the shit people get upset about.

I always think: So what? Plus, you don’t know everything about people.

However, there’s one group of people that seriously annoys me; know-it-alls.

Piet Hein, a Danish scientist, put it beautifully:

“Those who always know what’s best are a universal pest.”

It’s funny. Some people always want to prove how smart or knowledgeable they are. They take every opportunity to let people know they already know something.

What’s the point? Can’t you just nod and say yes? Nope. Know-it-alls always have something to say.

Also, they are never wrong. Could you imagine? A know-it-all who says they’re wrong? Not in a million years. They have a too big ego for that.

Is it confidence or a lack of it? But when I think about it, the answer is straightforward: When you show know-it-all behavior, it’s a sign of insecurity.

People who genuinely think that they know everything are delusional.

And I’m not the only person who can’t stand these type of people. Many of my friends and people I work with always talk about how know-it-alls annoy them at work or school.

I get at least one email a day with that specific question. And I completely get it. Some people just get on your nerves.

Here are 3 ways I deal know-it-alls.

1. Don’t Get Annoyed With Them

Obvious, right? So why do you get annoyed? Sure, know-it-alls are annoying but there’s another way to deal with them.

I was recently at a conference in Amsterdam with a friend who runs a startup. We were talking to two German wannabe entrepreneurs.

My friend was sharing some stuff he learned in this first year as a founder. Just some basic things like not thinking enough about the user, launching too early, etc. He was just sharing his perspective on common mistakes.

And one of the German guys was like: “That’s the most obvious thing I’ve ever heard.”

My friend said in a sarcastic way: “Well, aren’t you a genius!?”

My friend didn’t get annoyed. Instead, he mocked him. And that’s what I do too with these type of genius idiots.

2. Don’t Try To “School” Them

That is the biggest waste of time you can possibly think off; trying to share knowledge with a know-it-all. What’s the point? They already know it all!

Maybe you’re trying to help them. But think about it; what are you even doing? They can’t be saved by anyone else other than themselves.

3. Stay Away From Them

Over the past years, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work with all kinds of people from all over the world. I love meeting new people from different countries, and with different personalities, backgrounds, etc.

But I run away screaming when I sense a hint of a know-it-all. I don’t want them as clients, friends, students, colleges. They just cause headaches. And I don’t care if they think I’m not nice because I don’t want to listen to their pretentious stories.

Knowing Nothing Is Wisdom

At the end of the day, know-it-alls are losers. The only thing we can do is not behave like them. Why? In the words of the great Socrates:

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”

And that’s the only universal truth there is: We know nothing.

The beauty of the “I know nothing” mindset is that it brings you closer to people than you can imagine. Once you stop caring about whether you’re right or not, you can really get to know them without judgment.

Because you know what? It’s great to hear other people’s perspective. Or maybe; we don’t have all the answers? There are very little absolute truths in life.

And that’s okay. But it’s the “admitting it” part, and realizing that we don’t know much at all, that takes true wisdom.

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  1. Really interesting, there’s a lot of know-it-alls. You provide good advices. Personnaly, I prefer behave like if I knew nothing, because, even if you already what someone’s trying to say, you can learn from the approach he has of it..

  2. My friend said in a sarcastic way: “Well, aren’t you a genius!?”

    My friend didn’t get annoyed. Instead, he mocked him.

    I’m unclear on the concept here, because responding that way really is by definition an indication of annoyance. If you’re not annoyed at something someone says, you don’t respond with mocking and sarcasm. But regardless, why do it? There are really two types of know-it-alls: Those who know they’re being obnoxious and don’t care, and those who don’t realize they’re being obnoxious, because they lack social skills. If you respond sarcastically to the first type, at best you’ve caused ill will — and it’s never good to cause ill will since you never know when you’ll need someone’s help in the future — and at worst, created an enemy. If you respond sarcastically to the second type, they won’t even hear the sarcasm, and not only that, they won’t have learned that they did something annoying.

    Plus keep in mind that there are also people who aren’t know-it-alls, but made the mistake of commenting on something you know a hell of a lot more about than they do. For example, they might give you advice about a medical condition without realizing that you’re a doctor. Why mock them?

    A simple, “Thank you for your feedback,” or even just ignoring the comment altogether and moving along with the conversation — and then, finding an excuse to take your leave and doing so, since I agree that the best advice is to simply stay away from people who annoy you when possible — takes care of the problem.

    1. Julie: not to be offensive, but you’re kind of sounding like a ‘know-it-all’. A mistake that I make myself also is opening my mouth at all after hearing someone’s spiel…Sometimes you’re just better off not saying anything (kinda like right now for me too….ooops) Regardless if the person speaking is right or wrong, unless they’re asking for an answer or want to be corrected (if wrong) just let them spew their hot air. IMO, Just my 2 cents. Again, not bashing you.

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