Dealing with a know-it-all or think-they-know-it-all can be frustrating, especially if he/she is a member of your homeowners association (HOA) Board. Patience, understanding and tolerance are needed when you have frequent contact with someone who thinks they know far more than you on every topic. While we can’t change the person, we can change how we deal with the person so we can diffuse the situation and build a relationship.
Most know-it-alls want to be seen as super intelligent and to be right. It’s easy to spot this type of personality. They are always the ones spouting impressive facts and information. They repeat information to you because they think that you don’t get it or that you aren’t buying in to their way. Typically, they are very productive, thorough and accurate.
Recognizing what’s under the behavior is helpful in understanding how to deal with a know-it-all or think-they-know-it all. If it’s just one or two topics that your know-it-all Board member dominates, he/she may have expertise in the area(s). Others may think they are experts when they aren’t because they often learn a little about many things. Know-it-alls and think-they-know-it-alls want to be valued for their knowledge, and they feel best when their skills and knowledge are above others.
Know-it-alls have a low tolerance for correction or contradiction, and they may delay progress when you’re on a deadline. This makes them poor team players, but it would come as a shock to them that others find them annoying or frustrating. Here are some ways to deal with them on your homeowner association Board.
· Do your homework so you can ask logical questions.
· Listen carefully to what they say. It may be helpful to jot down a few key words or notes.
· Acknowledge their competence. Make sure you give them credit when they are right and don’t rub it in when they’re wrong.
· Restate the facts and summarize what you heard. Don’t discount or disagree.
· Ask clarifying question(s) in a non-confrontational manner. Ask them play out the worst-case scenario as a way of verifying their information.
· Convey your alternative viewpoint by validating their ideas first and then introducing your perspective.
· Avoid words or inferences that place blame by speaking about the topic instead of the person.
If you know in advance that you must deal with a know-it-all, get prepared mentally. Think about what has worked and failed in the past. Then, choose your “coping behavior” and determine what you need to be prepared before the meeting. A little advance work can save the meeting and the relationship.