Nobody likes a know-it-all. -Julien Smith
1. Stop trying to be ‘right’.
In 1936 Dale Carnegie wrote in one of the most widely read business books How to Win Friends and Influence People that you should never tell someone that “they are wrong”. When you prove someone wrong you may have convinced them of the facts but they don’t believe you. Do you like being proved wrong? The last time someone blatantly proved you wrong how did you feel? Did you feel you still had that same level of respect for them?
You may have proved them wrong but that doesn’t matter, they don’t like talking around you anymore because you’re a know-it-all who always has to be right. People don’t like associating with people who always have to be right. A willingness to be wrong makes you easy to talk to and makes the other person feel comfortable to share information with you.
I love the quote from Mark Twain:
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
2. Stop trying to change people.
I hope you’re not one of these people, you know, whatever you tell them they instantly turn into Dr. Phil trying to assess where you went wrong and advice on how to fix yourself. The thing is, when we don’t want feedback we don’t listen to other people. You might think you’re helping but really you’re wasting your time. Don’t tell people they’re wrong, don’t try to change their habits. If you do want to help them ask them first if they’d be willing to take your feedback. If they say yes, then and only then are you allowed to give feedback.
3. If you need to quote yourself, your past wage, or anything that may build your credibility you’ve already lost.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people tell others how much money they make. Nothing makes you sound more insecure than having to tell others your salary. If it’s a credibility thing, think about it, you’re not gaining any credibility at all. If you’re telling others how amazing you were in the past (how much $$$ you made) they’re just going to think you’re some pompous asshole who has a big ego.
In a class this year I got in an argument with one fellow who was adamant his point was right and to support his opinion he quoted that he had made a six figure salary so by definition he would understand better. Riiiiiiiight. He would lose credibility when he talked about his past experience. Don’t let this happen to you.
Your salary doesn’t have much at all to do with your intelligence and the more you have to use the former to justify the later the less credible you seem.
You don’t always have to be right. Stop trying to change people. Stop trying to justify being more credible than you actually are. I guarantee you’ll be a much more enjoyable person to be around.
Remember, nobody like a know it all.