Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


Ways to Handle ‘Know-it-alls’ Without Insult

There is one guy in my office who is driving me crazy. He is always offering his opinion about my work, and believes his way is the right way. What do I do?  I want to respond, but I like him and don’t want to offend him.

“Know-it-alls.” There is one in every office. Clearly, the woman in my seminar who made the above comment was growing increasingly irritated by her colleague’s unsolicited input.  And when that happens, it can be tempting to say something like: How do you know so much about things you know nothing about?

But don’t.

Though that line may be funny, it also may be considered insulting. I suggest trying one of the alternative approaches below, which let these opinionated people know that their comments are not the final word – but don’t alienate them. You will speak up in a “polite and powerful” manner, and, as a result, feel good that you responded. These approaches include:

1. Asking the person to explain his or her opinion by saying something like:
-What information (or facts or data) do you have to support that position?
-Why are you saying that?

2. Acknowledging the difference in opinions by using lines like: 
-I have a different viewpoint about it.
-I have a different opinion, and here’s why.
-My research/information supports a different position. Let’s compare notes.

Regardless of the approach you choose, make sure you speak loudly enough to be heard, look the person in the eye, and do not have a negative tone in your voice.

Also recognize that both approaches may lead to a discussion. Be open to hearing other points of view. Sometimes even “know-it-alls” can be right.

Additional information on business communication can be found in my book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success. 

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on business communication. For additional information, please contact Joyce Hoff at or 856..751.6141.


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