It can be frustrating trying to talk with someone who has an answer for everything, even something they are hearing for the first time. While you can’t change their response, and shouldn’t waste your time trying, here are a few tips on how you should respond to a know it all.
Stop Fueling The Fire
Once the conversation heads in a direction of their superior knowledge or attempted debate, just let it go. Change the subject, tell them they are right (even if they aren’t, and not in a snippy manner), or excuse yourself to start chatting with someone else. If it’s someone you have an ongoing relationship with, refrain from providing further or future information on the topic. This may be tricky if it a colleague at work or close family member.
Have Empathy For Their Insecurity
At its root, the need to know it all is related to some type of insecurity. Regardless of how well educated, how savvy, successful, beautiful, funny, or awe-inspiring a person may be—they still may be severely insecure. Try to be empathetic for their need for superiority, which can be easier said than done.
Another way to respond to a know it all is to give them the debate they want, just not at the expense of your stress or anxiety. It is not uncommon for a know it all to be contrary just for the sake of being contrary, or the sense of power and low-commitment connection they feel during a debate.