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Communicating With the Office Know-It-All

Published Fri Jun 18 2021

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No one likes a know-it-all. Unfortunately, we all know one or two at work. Working with a person who thinks they have all the answers—whether it’s a coworker or a manager—can be particularly frustrating, especially when you know they’re headed down the wrong path. It takes a special approach to communicate with them effectively, but you can still do it. First, approach everything from a place of curiosity. If you focus on trying to be right, you might be shooting yourself in the foot. Ask questions that will guide them to see your way of thinking. Don’t be afraid to point out where your idea might be weak. No strategy is perfect, but if you can head off the know-it-all’s nitpicking at the pass by saying, “Now this isn’t fully baked out yet, but . . . ” you take away a lot of their ammo. In that same vein, plan ahead for their reactions. If you know something will particularly rub them the wrong way, think about how you will respond when they inevitably quip back at you. Working and communicating with a know-it-all might seem a bit like a chess game because, in many ways, it is.

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