“Do not they bring it to pass by knowing that they know nothing at all?” Jean Racine
You know the type; always in the know, the first adapters, the most socially-conscious of us all and will tell you what you’ve been doing wrong, smugly, before you say a word. They might be at a professional conference you attend or a colleague you work with regularly or even a fellow member of the PTA, but mostly are overbearing and obnoxious to be around. It’s tough to work with them and it’s tough to be around them, so how do we manage to deal with them?
I believe many “Know-It-Alls” don’t mean to be obnoxious. They want to be helpful or perhaps, they want to feel important. Maybe they’re insecure and feel they have to speak out, give opinions or advice to feel worthy. They’ve never been told they are wrong about anything and feel they are always right. There are also those who will challenge every opinion or every decision others around them make, because they believe they “know better.” Those are the arrogant ones and are the most difficult to work with.
It’s difficult being around these “experts” and “moral paragons,” especially if you know they are not “all that.” What do you do? You don’t want to get the reputation of being a jerk but there is no reason you should be expected to deal with a jerk! Do you tell them to mind their own business? Do you tell they are mistaken? Do you thank them for their advice and go on your merry way? The answer is “yes” to all of these questions, but with situational qualifiers.
It’s simple to steer someone getting on “your last nerve” to mind their own business. Do not offer any further information or a rebuttal, no matter what they say; any information is fodder for these types of folks. If you know them or are of equal status with no threat of negative repercussions, walk away. If they are your supervisor, then no, you cannot; you need to clamp your mouth shut but not offer any more information. It’s tough but buck up; you can do it!
If you believe someone is mistaken but insist they are correct you could correct them, or you could let it go. If their mistaken belief will harm someone or cause confusion, then insist they check their facts. Daisy* told me she argued with her accompanist for several weeks last spring about the starting time of a concert (and Call time). Her accompanist insisted it was at 3:30 pm when the concert time had been changed to 2:30 in January due to another event at the venue. The accompanist would not listen to anything Daisy said about why the concert time had been changed, or who had changed it or what that would mean to their ensemble. Daisy finally shoved some promotional material from the venue at her, and then she believed. The accompanist was miffed enough to resign. Daisy feels she did the right thing; if she had let it go or had not insisted, who knows what would have happened.
Jerome* is a young musician but not an inexperienced musician. He studied with well-known teachers from a young age and knows his stuff about his instrument and choral music. Attending a conference last year, Jerome sat next to an older man at several workshops and presentations. The older man was determined to “take him under his wing” eventho Jerome had no interest in letting him. The older man was loud, strange, outdated and opinionated about the material presented; and hinted he could get him to see one of the presenters. He seemed oblivious to Jerome’s obvious discomfort about the whole thing. At the end of the first day, Jerome thanked the older man for his advice and walked away. The next day, Jerome avoided the older man by standing in the back of the conference rooms and waiting to find a seat until the last minute. It wasn’t a perfect solution but it worked well enough so he didn’t have to spend another day with that blowhard.
Next week we begin the month of November with another series, this time on self-care.