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Conflict Management – Handling the Think-I-Know-it-all

August 12, 2016

Conflict Management – How to handle the “Think –they-know-it-all”

People who behave like “think-they-know-it-all” are driven by the need to get appreciation. When they feel slighted in any way, they’ve likely to try harder than ever to attract attention. Think-They-Know-It-Alls push their way into conversations where they may not be wanted.

Your goal with dealing with this type of person is to catch them in their act and give their bad ideas the hook. You’ll be most successful if you can avoid putting them on the defensive. Here’s an action plan for bringing out the best in Think-They-Know-It-Alls.

Give them a little attention – There are two ways to give them attention. The first is to backtrack on his or her comments with enthusiasm. This lets the person know that you’re paying attention. (and it puts these types on the receiving end of their own foolishness). The second is to acknowledge the positive intent, without wasting your time on his or her information: you’re giving positive attention without necessarily agreeing with his or her remarks.

Clarify for specifics: If the person doesn’t know what he or she is talking about and you do, this should be easy. Ask some revealing questions about the specifics of his or her information. Since this person normally speak in huge generalisations, pay special attention to words like ‘everybody’ and ‘always’.
Tell it like it is: Carefully redirect the conversation back to reality. Use “I” language to keep your remarks as non-threatening as possible. To add irrefutable evidence, you can document your facts as you go.

Give them a break. At this point, it has become clear that they don’t know what they are talking about. Resist the temptation to embarrass the person. Instead, give them or her a way out, minimizing the chance that they will go on the defensive. They are not as attached to their ideas as the Know-it-alls. If you give them a way to go along with you, chances are they’ll be ready to jump into your bandwagon.

Break the cycle: Once people believe someone is just a Think-they-know-it-all, they may stop giving that person any recognition at all, even when he or she deserves it. But that increases their behaviour even more. “Break the cycle” means be ready to give credit where credit is due. Notice what this problem person is doing right and praise them for it. For some people, this attention will be all that’s necessary to get the problem behaviour to subside. With others, use a gentle confrontation to tell them the truth about the consequences of their negative behaviour.

Adjust your attitude

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1. Don’t burst their bubble: When you challenge them directly, their only way out is to counterattack with ever grander claims. And their conviction could sway others who don’t know any better.
2. Don’t be too quick to judge: We’ve all defended ideas that we didn’t necessary believe to be true.
3. Don’t be tempted to stretch the truth in the other direction: You could end up losing your creditability! Restrain the urge to ‘show up’ them. Move beyond their petty interruptions.

I hope you have found this information informative. For any assistance with your professional development please go to our website and send through a request email.

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Lee Stemm – Leadership and Performance Coach / Trainer

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