By Amanda Tonoli
It’s that one kid in your middle-of-the-day class who can’t seem to find it in him to shut his mouth when the teacher is giving a lecture. He is the reason you can’t take accurate notes; the reason you can’t get out of class early when the teacher said there was a short lesson today; your blood boils every time they take a breath in, anticipating the pointless word vomit that is about to be spewed.
Yes, I’m talking about it — the know-it-all. He or she isn’t actually interested in engaging the teachers or asking pertinent questions; nor are they particularly that concerned about learning, it seems.
You’ve encountered countless ones throughout your years of schooling, sitting in the back of the room, heavily sighing and thinking of ways to get them to shut the hell up.
In “You Say You Know It All” on PsychologyToday.com, written January 2003, Kaja Perina describes know-it-alls as people that put others down by implication.
“We’ve all met these people: They’ve seen everything before but get it all wrong nonetheless. So why do people overstate their knowledge? It’s not necessarily a calculated effort to impress others,” Perina said. “Some people may just think that everything they encounter is familiar to them, even if it’s entirely fabricated.”
The things that know-it-alls word vomit all over aren’t even necessarily true. Often, people just talk to hear themselves speak.
In “Difficult People: How to Deal with the Know-It-All,” an Official Guide to General Self Help on http://www.selfgrowth.com, Mark Tyrrell notes that because people of this type talk for no purpose, they can quite often hurt others’ self esteem — as they can be thoughtless with the copious amount of words they discharge. And they feel like they are doing everyone a favor by gracing them with pointless talk.
In hurting your self esteem, they are probably replacing what they are lacking in that department. If it gives them a sense of importance, how important is hating them, really?
“Know-it-alls thrive on a sense of self-importance,” Tyrrell said. “So to get them to listen — which tends not to come natural — you can use their need for status as sugar coating to get them to swallow something new — your take on things.”
Also, in dealing with know-it-alls, Tyrrell encourages us to remember that it’s not that they think they are better than the rest of us; it is simply their way of communicating with others — as poor as it is.
I, personally, will choose to follow the age-old advice of Thumper from Bambi: if I don’t have anything nice to say, I probably shouldn’t say anything at all. I can’t find it in me to encourage the obnoxiousness permeating from that class; perhaps, though, I will be able to root it in my brain that he is not a terrible person, but lacking in self-esteem and the use of muzzle.