Sarcasm, if used sparingly and at the exact moment when no other reply will do, can be funny. Working with a sarcastic know-it-all however, is not. How you cope with a co-worker who employs sarcasm while imparting the knowledge from his immense database of information -- whether it's true or not -- takes ingenuity if you don't want to spend your days skulking to avoid him.
Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
Know-it-alls are secure in the knowledge that they know everything. Even if faced with irrefutable evidence that one of the "facts" they've spouted is incorrect, they'll find a way to turn it around to their advantage. It's maddening. Even worse is when your office know-it-all is sarcastic. That world-weary demeanor can trick you into believing that whatever he says is the truth. When faced with a sarcastic know-it-all, take everything you hear with a grain of salt; especially when it involves co-workers, management and company policy. Find out the truth for yourself.
Keep It in Perspective
Sarcastic know-it-alls aren't born, they're made. Keep that in mind when you're waylaid by one in the corridor at work. Whatever circumstances in their lives forced them to adopt an off-putting manner, have a little sympathy. Their overbearing facade may be hiding insecurity, and feeling superior is the only way they can get by. Remembering this can help you cope with the negativity that coats every sarcastic statement the know-it-all makes. You can't fix him, but you can treat him like a valued human being by being respectful and polite.
Arguing against a sarcastic know-it-all is like putting gasoline on a fire. You cannot come out of an encounter like that without getting burned. The know-it-all is incapable of admitting that he is wrong and will use sarcasm to refute your statements with a smirk or sneer. Instead of being reduced to questioning your own expertise or feeling inferior, don't even engage in a give-and-take conversation with a know-it-all. Even though you may be aching to get your two cents in, just realize that it won't even make an impression on him. Save your breath for enjoyable conversations with less contentious co-workers.
If you're having a good, productive day at work, the last thing you want ruining your concentration or mood is a soul-sucking encounter with a sarcastic know-it-all co-worker. Don't make it obvious that you're avoiding him. If one does manage to corner you, be pleasant and polite, and make a believable excuse to get away that anyone would understand, like a trip to the washroom or a looming deadline. Don't feel bad; the know-it-all will always find another audience.
- Psychology Today: Co-Workers from Hell!
- Psychology Today: Difficult People 101: The DP Challenge
- Getting Along With People Is Easy! Wayne Kehl
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