Tips for Being a Better Know-it-all

I’m a know-it-all.

Did you know that?

You probably did. But I thought I’d tell you again anyway, because

I’m a know-it-all.

Know-it-alls like to inform people of things. I am informing you of this as we speak.

(I always feel a little odd typing “as we speak.” We’re not speaking. I’m typing and you’re reading. Could I say “as we type”? But only I am typing. You’re not typing. You’re reading. If you have a good solution for me, you’ll let the know-it-all know, won’t you?)

As long as I’m in a worldly-wise, know-it-all-y mood, let me tell you worldly-wise, know-it-all-y things about what know-it-alls should know about being know-it-alls.

I’m getting really tired of typing that word.

Sofia’s Know-It-All-y Tips for Being a Better Know-It-All

1. This is the most important one, and pretty much forms the basis for the rest of them: let people save face. If there’s one thing everybody hates, it’s being embarrassed. Shame hurts. If you’re going to say something know-it-all-y, make sure that it won’t embarrass the person you’re speaking to. That’s what’s bad about being a know-it-all. There’s nothing wrong with being knowledgeable; it’s when you make others feel stupid that it becomes a problem.

2. To that end, don’t tell somebody that they’re wrong, just because they’re wrong. Do you want to make them feel foolish? Only tell somebody that they are wrong if it will help in some way.

Wrong time to tell someone that they’re wrong:

Person 1: My grandfather is a Civil War veteran.

Know-it-all: That is incorrect. The Civil War was fought in the 1860s, well over 100 years ago, and all Civil War veterans are now deceased. Your grandfather is more likely a Korean or Vietnam War veteran.

Outcome: Person 1 now feels stupid and it’s the Know-it-all’s fault. Nothing has been achieved by this.

Right time to tell someone that they’re wrong:

Person 1: I am glad that they have oatmeal cookies here, which are made of oats, because I’ll die if I consume wheat flour, but I can eat these.

Know-it-all: Are you sure they have no wheat flour? Let’s look at the ingredients list, just to make sure.

Outcome: Person 1’s life has been saved.

3. When at all possible, let people discover things for themselves. It makes them feel smarter than if you just told them. As in the example above, Know-it-all could have said, “No, that is incorrect. Oatmeal cookies contain wheat flour.” He would have just invalidated the statement of Person 1, making Person 1 feel stupid. However, by appearing unsure himself, Know-it-all allows Person 1 to figure it out for himself.

4. When issuing blame, try to use “we” instead of “you.” When we’re to blame, it doesn’t feel quite so bad as when you’re to blame. The blameable person can probably figure out for himself that he’s to blame, and if so, he might even admit it. It’s easier to admit blame if nobody is accusing you specifically. When someone accuses you specifically, it’s second-nature to defend yourself, even if you know, in your heart of hearts, that it might really be your fault.


Randy: You forgot the mayonnaise. Our picnic is ruined forever. How could you?

Mandy: I did not! You should have been in charge of that. I was busy with other condiments.

Outcome: Randy and Mandy are upset and the picnic is ruined forever.


Sandy: Oh dear; it looks like we forgot the mayonnaise. What should we do?

Brandy: Oh, sorry; I should have checked. I will set out in search of mayonnaise.

Outcome: Sandy gets to lie on a blanket in the sun while Brandy sojourns in quest of mayonnaise. The picnic is delayed but by no means cancelled. Nobody is upset.

I hope you have enjoyed Sofia’s Know-It-All-y Tips for Being a Better Know-It-All. I have to go and study for finals now. Goodbye until next time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s