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Know-it-all attitudes

  1. May 10, 2014 #1
    "know-it-all" attitudes

    I have met quite many people who always act as if they didn't need to be told about this or that. They immediately speak up "I know that already you don't need to teach or lecture me" something like that.
    Is being told about something having the same meaning as being stupid ?
    Even though I know I should stop talking too much to those people, their attitudes and ways to answer or response like that really make me feel bad. I want to punch their faces.
    Could you tell me your experience in handling these things ?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 10, 2014 #2


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    Something I've seen in some science types (especially students) is they are soooo enthusiastic about what they know and/or just learned, that they *can't wait* to share it with others. This isn't a bad thing, except some people just don't give a rat sass about science and they don't want to hear it. Perhaps these people are like that?

    Or perhaps they actually do already know it?

    You say they make you angry, but consider the possibility that you are making them angry, too.
  4. May 10, 2014 #3
    Knowledge can sometimes breed pride and arrogance. Which is why there is a deep chasm between knowledge and wisdom. Knowing facts doesn't mean you are a better person. It takes more than that. Like people skills :)
  5. May 10, 2014 #4
    It's kind of ironic that a person that makes a topic like this sees things only from their own end. It's not protocol where you condemn or condone someone just for the manner they respond to you with, consider yourself as well. In fact, such spectator-assessor attitude makes you the so called "know-it-all" - you presume to judge people because you don't happen to like them at the time.

    It's kind of a complicated matter - people skills. Feel free to judge anyone and anything, just don't expect Everyone to remain passive to such an action.
  6. May 10, 2014 #5


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    This is also a corporate survival strategy that the best executives follow. You can't say you don't know otherwise other execs will pounce on you ie talk behind your back and in effect preventing you from moving ahead. Its a rat race where the rats must appear to know things they don't.

    Eventually you'll understand that all jobs can be like this. The people who are genuine will say from time to to time that they didn't know something and that's how you can spot them. Other times, someone will suggest some new strategy to follow and it will be panned by everyone and then a year or two later someone else will suggest it and all of a sudden it becomes a great idea and the original suggester is left in the dust. Its all perception and you must manage it to survive in industry.
  7. May 10, 2014 #6
    IME, certain people are allergic to any sentence that starts with "did you know...". Over the years I've learned to keep my enthusiasm for science to myself. Also there's not a whole lot to gain in correcting people when they say something wildly inaccurate, other than making yourself seem arrogant despite doing your best. If it wasn't a direct question, sharing your fancy "college facts" with people that don't value education or worldliness all that much is bound to give a negative impression.

    I was doing an exercise at the gym the other day (deadlifts) and a gentleman said the "impact" from laying the weight down in the fashion that I did (completely unloading it on the floor) would "send the vibrations up my arm and break it, it's simple physics". I have a physics degree... but I now know better than to start disputing someone with an opinion like that. I don't know much about exercise physiology, but more than one athlete has let me know I was doing it the right way too on several occasions, so I trust their collective knowledge along with the works of Sir Newton.
    Last edited: May 10, 2014
  8. May 10, 2014 #7


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    I know a person who displays this attitude with every other breath. It is absolutely frustrating and is a product of very high ego. There is almost nothing more annoying than a person with very high ego, regardless of how smart they are. What's worse, this person goes to a school where people of much higher intelligence are at every passing corner. The best way to deal with them is to just ignore them unless interaction is absolutely necessary.
  9. May 10, 2014 #8


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    Hah, my boyfriend can act like that and it's extremely annoying, a conversation killer: "that's old, already read it on reddit". On the other hand I have a colleague who can give a monologue of 30 minutes on some uninteresting point. I guess people will be people, try and find out why they react like that and express how it makes you feel.
  10. May 10, 2014 #9
    That's too verbose. On another forum I visit, people usually reply with "f'old". Which stands for *expletive*ing old.
  11. May 10, 2014 #10
    Curiously, although they may make out they are not listening, they really are.
  12. May 10, 2014 #11


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    That's also too verbose. My sister-in-law now hand signs; "B4" to my brother when he starts telling a story.

    This stands for: "We've all heard this story BE-FORE....."
  13. May 10, 2014 #12
    Yes I've met some people like that, just avoid arguing with them because they don't want to learn and will never admit they're wrong. If you have to talk to a person like that, you can say like "Oh good thing for me you seem to know everything" in a half-joking/half-serious manner just so the person realizes his/her arrogance is annoying you.
  14. May 10, 2014 #13
    It's an interesting position to take not wanting to hear about something that you believe you "already know".

    There have been many times where I picked up on new viewpoints or details about a broader topic just by letting someone explain to me what I thought I already knew.
  15. May 10, 2014 #14


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    Sounds like what I do. It's called having a conversation. One of my buddies are work and I are always sharing the latest and greatest science facts that we've heard. Sometimes we've both heard the same thing, and have the best conversations in the universe. :smile:

    Today though, two men came to my front door. One of them opened a little 10 page booklet and showed me where it was written that the world would not be destroyed. I told him he was wrong, that in several billion years, the sun would turn into a red giant, and destroy our planet. He didn't seem to believe me, nor even acknowledge that I'd spoken a word, as he continued showing me little blipverts of information, which also struck me as somewhat incorrect. He asked if he could come back next Saturday. I politely said yes. Though I didn't mention that I wouldn't answer the door. :devil:
  16. May 11, 2014 #15


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    I have this attitude when people are telling me things in a very condescending way and act as if they are a big deal. Otherwise, I am more than happy to listen and talk to people regardless of the content.
  17. May 11, 2014 #16
    wow. As I am quite belligerent (unfortunately), I would not be able to control myself after the arrogant "it's simple physics" part. He'd get the full lecture on why he's wrong.

    But then again, I guess he was just trying to help.
  18. May 11, 2014 #17
    I'm always studying informatics. My knowledge it's not huge, but it's enough to not be impressed by ordinary news on the subject. Still people come to me and try to talk to me about these new devices. It's really hard to apparent I'm impressed by some superficial news about an iPhone or some Galaxy. My interests lie in more complex subjects that are never covered on the news. I try not to say anything at all, but sometimes I feel they are treating me like I'm stupid and I simply have to say it.

    How to handle this? Well, don't go for the punch. You never know which kind of person you are dealing with. I, for instance, have very nice reflexes and practice boxing. I won't fight you back, but it will take you nowhere. Unless you practice boxing as well or other forms of combat. Instead try to go for technical details. Maybe that will impress them. EDIT: The point is that other people may be physically trained to withstand physical blows and trained in combat. Going physical with them may even be dangerous for you unless, once again, you are trained as well. Don't do it. Just take the concept and go into deeper details to impress.

    (A single punch may mean nothing to me, but several recursive punches may actually become painful. So I may be willing to listen then... Hehe *nervous laugh*)

    Sorry if I sound arrogant with this... I still don't have the word softener I wrote about the other day and can't really fit emoticons here.

    If he can draw a free body diagram of the forces in play then I'll say: "Not bad. You do know your stuff when you say it's simple physics."
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  19. May 18, 2014 #18


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    Humility is really important, and sooner or later they will understand... If you encounter these things, there are ways of disarming it. Like, take a pause, and make some sort of gesture showing them that they are acting up and it's getting to you. I don't think confronting them with it is the solution, that will probably make things ugly.
  20. May 20, 2014 #19
    Be careful not to mix up arrogance with other things. I got into a debate with one friend over the term "obvious". He said that it's pretty arrogant to say. I agree it's used that way a lot, but not always. He was very opposed to that. I used the term "obvious" or "trivial" a lot, as a lot of mathematicians do. I don't even think of it. There's one person in particular I work with a lot. I use "obvious", not out of arrogance. I will say with full conviction that he is a much better mathematician than I am. He's smarter and harder working than I am. I'll use it with professors, "isn't this result obvious because of this theorem?". Now the professor knows the answer, he's known the answer to the question since before I was even in college. He knows the answer and many layers of generalizations. If I tried to condescend, they would make me look really stupid really fast.

    I was arguing with my friend over the term. He said it's always condescending. Now most of the time? If you feel like someone is being arrogant they probably are. But sometimes it's something else. Sometimes it's language. A lot of the time its passion. Sometimes it's purely social awkwardness.
  21. May 21, 2014 #20
    Some people give some information along with it's source, once we believe them they add their own false statements about it.

    Some other know-it-all people like to brag about themselves by proving others wrong for eg. if I say that car is about 100m far,, they say NO, its 98.2m far,,, without even making any measurements. These are the most irritating people. One guy once told me there is a piece of cloth its very big, yet it passes through a ring. When asked how, he replied, It's so thin that it defies ALL laws of physics. How can he think for like 10 seconds and declare that works all the physicists working so far is disproved just because a piece of cloth passes through a ring??:mad::mad::mad::mad::mad::mad:
  22. May 21, 2014 #21


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    I have seen quite many people who create a PF account to rant about one thing and never return.

    But, in case you come back... Since you're encountering so many people that don't need things explained to them, have you considered that it might be something to do with how you're speaking to them? Why do you think that these people need things explained to them?
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