For those of us in the workforce, we can certainly all agree that we have worked with some real ‘pieces of work’. Other words that come to mind are assholes, know-it-alls, blabbermouths, drama queens (or kings), liars, phonies, awkward, smelly….well you get the picture. If you work in a small office and the flow of work is not always like the Grand Rapids you may find yourself with hours upon hours of time to decide what it is in particular you dislike about your coworker.
Such was the case for Jeremy. He was in the same situation as described with many colleagues sharing the traits listed above. I asked him how he has been able to deal with it without losing his mind as he still maintains the same employment. His response was surprising to say the least. He told me had analyzed each individual and learned how to cope with their characteristics on a case by case basis. He had tried to ignore that which annoyed the hell out of him but confided that method only works for so long. He needed some mechanism that will stand the test of time. I talked him through his analysis and he gave me permission to post about it on my blog.
The Know-It-All, henceforth referred to as the KIA, is self-explanatory but with an ironic twist. In Jeremy’s case, the KIA was male so think of the name Little John from the Robin Hood stories. Little John was in fact a very large man just as the KIA really doesn’t actually know a whole lot. A KIA has very good memorization skills and may be able to do things like recite the alphabet backwards or tell you if it is a leap year or not without looking at the calendar. Most of the time what they do is repeat something they heard from a knowledgeable person such as a journalist or other professional in their field. You may be thinking ‘well, yea don’t we all do that?’ The answer is yes but to a degree. The KIA has a grandiose sense of self which is most likely borne of low self-esteem and they have an unquenchable thirst for “being the one who knows”. They will spend hours reading mundane, even obscure things so that it can be shimmied into regular conversation. To the untrained ear, it sounds as if they are intelligent. They speak very matter-of-factly as if every word from their mouth is true. But a few simple open-ended questions will reveal that the KIA did more memorizing than learning.
The KIA will not be able to articulate the context of what he has read and if he attempts to, it will be incorrect. The KIA will also be unable to discuss the subject any further than what has been memorized which thoroughly illuminates their actual brain power. Another trait of a KIA is one who will tell a story and inject themselves into it as if they were involved somehow. Again, simple, open-ended questions always reveal the truth. They may not admit the truth but if you are trained to hear when a KIA is talking, you will know when they are lying. A KIA thrives on attention and the more captivated their audience, the more powerful they feel. Always take what a KIA says with a grain of salt. More often than not, they are stating their opinion as fact. A KIA is somewhat harmless although extremely annoying. They are thoroughly disliked by almost all and if you work with one, the best advice is to not engage. Keep conversations and answers as short as possible – or non-existent if you can.