Close this search box.

​How to handle a know-it-all colleague. Get our 3 tips on how to do it!

The colleague who always answers “yes, but” to every suggestion or constantly avoids taking responsibility. Everyone has experienced difficult people at work and according to our research, the colleague who tops the list as the most annoying is the know-it-all.

“Smart ass” or the know-it-all type: Has an opinion on any subject and often gives unsolicited advice. Because of this behavior, you may feel that your opinion is worthless or that this person is constantly trying to outdo you. This can put a significant strain on your relationship.

Most people who take up a lot of space do so out of fear of not being heard themselves.

If you are dealing with a more knowledgeable person, remember that they want to be recognized for their knowledge and expertise and often intend to help you.

Tip 1: Avoid starting a conflict

As annoying as it can be to receive unsolicited advice, remember that nine times out of ten these comments are made in good faith. Don’t start a discussion, but make sure the person feels heard. Thank your colleague for the input and possibly add your own ideas. Alternatively, you can say:

“These are interesting points of view. I will think about that”

In this way, you make the better-informed colleague feel heard, but you are not obliged to act on their advice (at least not immediately).

Tip 2: Do you need advice? Ask a specific question!

When it comes to the know-it-all colleague, the complaints are often that “they always think they know better.” No matter how good your own arguments are, these colleagues always seem to come up with an endless list of additional facts and issues. It is understandable if you do not want to approach this colleague first. But when you need their input, make sure you focus it. Ask very specific questions such as: “Do you have a suggestion regarding Article 2, Section 3?”

Colleagues who always want to be right often mean well; they just convey it clumsily. Use what you can of their input!

Tip 3: Assign more responsibilities

Then there is the better-informed colleague who gives plenty of criticism from the sidelines during meetings. In such cases, you can advantageously include the person in the conversation or even the project and give them more responsibility. “It seems like you have a clear vision for this project. Will you take the lead?”

They may not be interested, but it is also possible that with greater responsibility they can contribute more effectively!

If the more knowledgeable colleague exceeds your limits?

If the person who always wants to be right crosses your boundaries in an unpleasant way, you will need to initiate a longer conversation. The best approach is to give feedback to the person by describing their behavior and revealing how it affects you. “You often have comments or criticisms of my ideas and it makes me feel like you are constantly criticizing me.”

If you would like to get better at setting boundaries directly and practice being assertive, our course “Power2Influence®” can help strengthen your impact.

“We are The Influence Company. For over 80 years, we have been training ambitious professionals. Through intensive courses, they gain deep insight into their own communicative behavior and the behavior of others. They get practical tools to approach things differently than they are used to, which makes it easier for them to achieve their goals. To any person, in any situation.”

Most recent blog posts
Follow us on