FWP: How to Deal with a Know‑It‑All Couple
PROBLEM: My friend and her husband have this really annoying way of acting like they know everything. At any social gathering, they always have to be grandstanding about how much they know about travel, or music, or wine. It comes across condescending and rude, and they seem totally clueless about how off-putting it is. Any ideas about how to deal with these two pompous know-it-alls?
LG: Some people are really passionate about a given topic; others are simply proud of how much knowledge and of what kind they’ve accrued — generally because they are insecure about the depth of that knowledge or means by which they’ve acquired it. (Wikipedia. It’s always Wikipedia.) Your friends sound like the latter. They also sound insufferable.
Unless you plan to bone up on a variety of high-brow topics (and be perpetually on stand-by to beat them to the ‘actually’ punch) you can’t curb this habit. So, you either hang with them less, hang with them the normal amount and ignore their bad habit, or pretend to be so ignorant that either they label you a hopeless case — or you expose their know-it-all-ness for the fraudulence they secretly believe it is. I suggest you start admiring Castro’s influence on Cubism, savoring warm notes of belladonna in the wine, and discerning a Rococo influence in Harry Styles’ new album.
SB: Your know-it-all friend clearly love to hear themselves talk and bask in the limelight no matter how they come off to others. Next time you are with them, steer the conversation into a group discussion about whether it’s better to be interested or interesting. Extol the virtues of listening and the art of two-way conversations, and see if they take the hint. They don’t seem like an especially insightful pair, so there’s high chance this won’t work, but at least the rest of the group will be in on the joke.
Throw in some extra entertainment by playing a little game with yourself called Predict the Pomp, where you place bets about the next all-knowing statement they will make. These get-togethers will become a lot more fun this way! But then you do have to live with being a bit of a jerk to your friends….
MM: Sounds like LG is spot on with the Wikipedia! You’ve got two options in this case: play smart, or play dumb. At the next gathering, try changing the topic to a subject you’re a real expert in, and dive deep until you watch them fluster and struggle to switch tracks to familiar territory.
Or, you could play completely ignorant as LG suggests. Be THAT person at a party who doesn’t care for wine, music, travel, or any of that stuff and is intently running her fingers over the upholstery or smelling the flowerpots instead. Repeat until they get the message or your friends catch on, and successfully manage to tune them out.
RT: Haha, I love SB’s recommendation to subtly guide the know-it-all person’s conversation towards being a good listener. That is bloody brilliant. However, having been with a know-it-all boyfriend for a few years now, I think it is also always best to challenge their knowledge constantly.
Example: My boyfriend kept going on about how “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” and I was like, “Is it, though? Which studies back up that? We should do some more research on that one.” This gets them, (the know-it-alls), really worked up and the next time they speak about a topic, they are more careful around your questioning. Try it, and do tell…
Got any first world problems? Write to the Swaddle Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll sort you out. Kind of.