Dealing With Difficult People- The Know-it-all

Do you have a difficult person in your life?  Perhaps it's a boss, or a relative-- or maybe a co-worker... or even a spouse!  This week, Imagine Hope is discussing the different types of "difficult people" and some ways to cope more effectively with each type.  Today we will cover the last type of difficult person:  The Know-it-all! The Know-it-all is a strongly opinionated, competitive, imposing, pompous and intimidating person.  They often try to make others feel foolish or dumb.  This type of difficult person might actually say demeaning or shaming things about you in front of others.  Their put-downs might feel not only overwhelming, but make it intimidating to speak up around this person.  No matter what you say to this difficult person, they can "top" you, and you don't ever feel like you can "win" with this person, much less feel heard-- they are always "right" (and you can't seem to do ANYTHING right in their eyes!!).  Dealing with this type of person in a group setting can feel like you are being squished like a bug!

What to do when dealing with a Know-it-all:

Realize that behind the know-it-all mask is someone who is very insecure.  Look at their arrogance as insecurity under the surface.

Know your facts.  Ask them to state their facts behind statements, and restate views if necessary.  Allow them to save face when they are inaccurate.  Deal with this person alone when necessary.

Don't take it personally, and don't take everything they say as factual.

Don't let them get away with things that do not add up based on the facts.  You can call this person out, but it's important to keep your fear on the back burner (don't let them see your intimidation).  Try to quiet your inner voice that makes you feel nervous or ashamed around this person, and keep reminding yourself that they are really insecure under all of that bravado shown on the outside!  Remember:  No one can take your personal power away from you unless you allow them to (under most circumstances).

Agree to disagree, or table the conversation for another time.  Getting into a power struggle will be draining and self-defeating.  Being able to say "I will agree to disagree", helps you keep your appropriate personal power, while still taking care of yourself.

We hope this week's blog has been helpful for you-- especially if you recognize that you regularly interact with a difficult person!  As always, thank you for joining us this week...


"People Skills" by Robert Bolton, Ph.D.;   "Dealing With Difficult People" by R. Cava;  "Since Strangling Isn't an Option" by Sandra A. Crowe;  "Secrets of Dealing with Difficult People" by Mark Lauderdale, MD, FRCFC

Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling.  Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.