10 Ways to Spot a Know-It-All
Everyone else is wrong, when you know you’re right.
Their brilliance decreases as you imagine yours going up. There’s an inverse relationship between how smart you think you are and how dumb you think others are.
“Brilliant” leaders are usually surrounded by “idiots.”
10 ways to spot a know-it-all:
- Their life’s a mess but they’re telling others how to live.
- They haven’t failed big in the last five years.
- They seldom take advice.
- They judge quickly.
- They’re brilliant at pointing out problems but reluctant to take action.
- They can always do it better, even if they’ve never done it.
- They talk more than listen. The more power they have the more they talk and the dumber they become.
- They establish adversarial relationships with people who get things done.
- They’re constantly thinking, “It can’t be that hard,” while others struggle.
- They expect more from others than they expect from themselves.
7 ways to deal with your own brilliance:
- Let go of process. Hang on to result. Explain results but let others figure out how to get there.
- Generate three options before moving forward. You’re on thin ice if you think there’s only one answer.
- Hang around smart people. There’s an inverse relationship between how smart you think you are and the brilliance of people you rub elbows with.
- Realize brilliance in one area isn’t brilliance everywhere. Before telling others what to do, ask yourself, “Have I ever done this before?” The things you haven’t done look easy.
- Embrace confidence in your ability to learn. Over-confidence knows – real confidence learns.
- Keep repeating in your head, “I could be wrong, I could be wrong, I could be wrong,” even when you know you’re right.
- Say, “I have a brilliance problem,” when you think you’re smarter than everyone else.
How can leaders be good at being smart?
This is an AWESOME list. Leaders need confidence AND humility. We’ve been working on this fine art with my 9 year old son. It’s a tough balance with kids too. He has been blessed with an abiilty to carry on deep conversations with grown-ups. That’s great, and we want him to have the confidence to do so. BUT said grown-ups than react in astonishment and feed his ego. Confidence yes… but….
We’re having daily conversations on confident humility for 9 year olds 😉
Thanks Karin. Speaking of brilliance. Your focus on confident humility is powerful. It’s a great contribution to leaders.
Thanks so much, Dan. I appreciate your support. Have a wonderful Christmas.
Well, im in real estate. Believe me, it requires alot more then just brilliance because of the steps toward action an initiative factor in this lane of business. If you feel to differ enlighten me. Please do; you’ve gotten my attention you really have, but before someone has began reaping the fruits of success an lived a period of crisis rather than a wrecked life or one considered to be a mess…… What do we call their words of wisdom an their knowledgeable response if asked something? Is it invalid, is that person considered a know it all because their in a crisis rather then a mess, but still insist on sharing knowledge if the know something and possess knowledge of something. What if that person actually can tell you how to do something life wise…. What really gives someone the right to justify that person a know it all.
Good one! 🙂
Sent from my iPhone
Few days back, one person commented on my face book post. When he started commenting, I responded his comment politely. Then his subsequent comment became extremely critical. Instead of focusing on issue, he started targeting me. Some of my friends suggested him but he was un-polite in his approach. I also decided not to respond to his comment. Now, why I say all this story. The moral is one need to analyse what he or she is going to get in case one wins or loses the argument. My point is that no one actually wins the argument, because it is argument and intention is to show one’s knowledge better than others.
When people develop such attitudes, they come under know it all category. They want to win all the arguments. They use all energy in winning petty argument. In the process they can win many battle, but one thing is very sure- they do not win a war. This is how know it all people justify their lives.
Smartness is the way of self-belief. It is about how one is confident about one’ knowledge and belief. At the same time, one has to have politeness and openness to understand others perspective and it possible learn from others. The moment one decides not to learn from others or he or she thinks, he or she knows everything, it is a great blunder. And no one can teach such people, unless they realize themselves.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. Your comment got me thinking about positional arguments vs. lets just find the best solution. Things start feeling really different when it becomes about the best solution rather than who’s right. Thanks for the inspiration.
Dan, this is a good take on the problem of “halo bias” (Realize brilliance in one area isn’t brilliance everywhere. Before telling others what to do, ask yourself, “Have I ever done this before?” The things you haven’t done look easy.).
I also love the idea of choosing your company thoughtfully.
Thanks Bruce. My wife doesn’t want me to help in the kitchen because I think I know how to cook! We just laugh at my omnipotence and vast knowledge.
I guess I am a know-it-all. You wrote a wonderful article! Keep it up 🙂
Thanks Thea. Knowing you are a know it all is the first step to dealing with it… 🙂 I’m a know it all too.
being around the real 200 IQ guys in IT can certainly keep your hat a size smaller.
I can’t remember where I read this (I think it was a Tom Clancy novel), but it was to the effect that the difference between a clever person and a stupid one was the size of their mistakes, because no one who is really stupid would be allowed to make decisions on anything really important.
I have a team because I can’t know and do everything myself. I make everyone know that too. I go to experts because I’m smart enough to know I’m NOT an expert in those fields. I treat them as experts and guess what, I get superb service, because I appreciate their expertise and they know I appreciate it.
Thanks Mitch. Real brilliance, it seems, is knowing there’s someone more brilliant than you and finding them.
I concur with Mitch’s approach, brilliance is everywhere you just have to pick the bright star that serves your needs. Easier said than done, sometimes the clouds overcome the stars..
Dan, I work in a highly specialised technical field. It requires a set of experts to come together to put all the pieces in place. I’ve been very lucky that I have had good people (very good) to go to. We know enough about one another’s capabilities to know who to call and when.
Unfortunately, really stupid people who are well-connected can be found in positions where they _can_ make mistakes of magnificent importamce.
I like your “Generate three options before moving forward..” one of my favorite bosses required a WRITTEN Plan B with my years business plan and budget.. the first time I did it I thought it was a bizarre exercise but came to understand it forced me to think trough other patterns, alternate likelihoods, and created more agility when things did go unplanned (as they often do!)
Hey Dan- I am a recovering know it all! Love your insight bro!
Great Post Dan – Basically saying the wise person realizes there is much they don’t know. Perhaps the more they find out – the less they know
I have seen such people in my working life and suffered at the hands of such fellows since they happened to occupy the boss’s chair. It is extremely difficult and painful to work with such people. But it taught me a valuable lesson and insight. That is be humble and never stop learning. It has taken me the distance and taught me to be humble. I continue to learn.
Great list. Brought up some bad memories
about my last boss. But, the “silver leadership lining”
is that you sometimes learn what NOT to do
from people in authority… I won’t ever
lead like he did. I hope!
Ai this is a mirror article for me, thanks a lot. Love the remedies and will apply even more. Getting the reflexes fixed is the hardest thing for me. I use questions to avoid know-it-all conversations, but the starting point remains difficult. Guest this is part of personality. Have a wonderful Xmas!