Demystifying Difficult People: The Think-They-Know-It-All

This Type Craves Attention, Appreciation
(One of the 10 difficult behaviors that represent normal people at their worst, Think-They-Know-It-Alls can't fool all the people all of the time, but they can fool some of the people enough of the time for the sake of getting some attention.)

The often abrasive behavior of the Think-They-Know-It-Alls results from the desire to get appreciation. When he feels slighted in any way, he is likely to up the stakes and try harder than ever to attract some attention in his direction. Think-They-Know-It-Alls are assertive in their behavior, pushing their way into conversations where they may not be wanted. They have a strong people focus since people are the source of the attention and appreciation they crave.

Think-They-Know-It-Alls do have at least one unique ability: They know how to learn just enough about a subject to sound conversant in it. They also have a particularly bad habit. They are addicted to exaggeration as an attention-getting device. Though you'd think they'd know that's how it sounds, they certainly don't think of themselves as liars. They believe what they say, even if they're hearing it for the first time. The more defensive they get, the more they have to repeat themselves. Each time they hear the words that left their mouths come back in through both their ears, they think other people are agreeing with them. In this way, they are able to rapidly build up a consensus of opinion, even though it only exists in their own minds.

At first this misinformation can be fun to listen to and even funny. Done in times of crisis or change, it becomes annoying at best and dangerous at its worst. After a while, people quit listening. In desperation, the Think-They-Know-It-All may try even harder to get attention, and this leads to greater isolation and disapproval. Pretty soon, the Think-They-Know-It-All gets nothing from everyone: no attention, no respect and no encouragement. In fact, people will actually begin to say, "Don't encourage them!" The end result is that even their best efforts and good ideas tend to get dismissed or overlooked. Unfortunately, this causes them to need attention even more, so the Think-They-Know-It-All behavior increases.

From: The Art of Communication
© 2007 Dr. Rick Kirschner
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