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  • Writer's picturePeter Yawitz

How do I deal with a know-it-all?

Dear Someone Else's Dad,

How do I deal with a coworker who lets me know that he knows how to do everything better than I do? Thanks,

Pretty Competent

Dear PC,

Dealing with a know-it-all (KIA) is tough because the person is always going to self-promote, and there’s no real benefit to you if you call the person out. Since you can’t change the KIA’s annoying personality, you just have to accept that you’ll always get a KIA-type comment, and not let it affect you that much. Take a deep breath, say, “OK,” and move on. Here are snippets of conversations with different types of KIAs.


Jim: I’ve been working on this project; I’d love for you to take a quick look when you get a chance to see if you have any comments.

KIA: Hmm. There are so many issues. I really should just start over and do it myself.


Lil: I’m putting together a piece for our clients on the long-term effects of consuming more than three ounces of caramel brulée latte topping per day.

KIA: Good idea, and you just happen to be talking to the right person because I wrote a series of papers – which I got funding for from a very prestigious foundation, and they only give out a handful of grants-- all about how children’s teeth can be destroyed by certain by the particles in poorly made muffins. It was a game-changing study— quoted everywhere—and really affected the muffin industry. So you’ll be dealing with the absolute expert here if you need help. Happy to share my wisdom.


Bette: I met our new client, Dan Fann, who said—

KIA: Dan Fann! Yes, everyone knows him—very prestigious. I know all about him. Very smart.

Bette: Yes, and he said he can help us with our Asia strategy--

KIA: Of course, Asia is his specialty! He’s the expert! I’ve talked about Asia with him!

Bette: Right, so he was saying that we should talk to his colleague Ron Konn about about—

KIA: Ron Konn is the best. Great idea- Ron was a great hire for Dan. Excellent person.

Bette: Actually I just made up the name Ron Konn. He doesn’t exist.

OK, I made that last line up. But I so wish it were true. But if Bette said “Ha ha, liar, there’s no such person as Ron Konn!” The KIA’s comeback might be, “I knew that sounded wrong. There’s another person on his team I’m thinking about who’s very good.” And you’d be stuck trying to figure out your comeback.



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