You and I know more than a few folks suffering from Know It All Syndrome. In general, the Know It All Syndrome folks operate under the delusion that they Know It All. And perhaps they do.
In general, Know It All Syndrome folks irritate the heck out of you. Mostly, because they overrun your meetings with their continuous flood of words. Consequently, team members turn off and tune out. Eventually, team members dismiss and marginalize the Know-It-Alls. Why? Because Know-It-Alls make the rest of the team feel marginalized and dismissed, as well. Talk about impeding productivity, profitability, and cross-functional collaboration! Isn’t it time for you all get out of your own way, together?
Instead, have the courage to take a closer look at these dynamics. Because there actually are two types of Know It All Syndrome professionals.
First, there are the folks with Self-Affirming Know It All Syndrome. To say they have egos is an understatement. In their eyes, their information is, in fact, always correct. In spite of being subject matter experts, they seek continuous affirmation from others. Self-Affirming Know It All’s try to dominate every conversation to prove – to themselves as much as to others – what they know. You can find Self-Affirming Know It All’s disrupting conversations. Mostly by frequently uttering single words like “Right!”, “Exactly!,” “Of Course!”, “Aha!” when other people are speaking.
These are the folks which you, as leaders, take aside after meetings. First, you ask the Self-Affirming types to focus on sharing the air with everyone else in the room. Next, you make the Self-Affirming folks aware of the ingrained professional habits impeding them from becoming the type of leader they are capable of. Also, you request they learn to be more gracious and collaborative with peers.
Next, let’s discuss the folks with Valued Know It All Syndrome. These professionals are subject matter experts, too. Yes, they are opinionated and constantly inviting others to push back and challenge them. However, their actions and your engagement encourage spirited collegial debate with positive, collaborative outcomes. When you expand the boundaries of professional mindset, habits, values, opinions and learning, you all move one millimeter forward: together.
Why the difference? First of all, because valued professionals require you to know your stuff in order to participate. Second, they push you to be prepared for anything during a meeting. Also, they are thoughtful listeners and wonderful facilitators. Then again, they challenge you by asking great questions rather than spouting rhetorical, conversation-ending utterances. As a result, everyone becomes sharper and more astute. Over time, you all are more comfortable operating in uncertain and ambiguous environments, together.
Yes, from time to time the Valued Know It All’s are predictably irritating. Their information is, in fact, always correct. That is because they are innovative and visionary, always pointing you forward to consider “What’s Next?” Yet, once you all get to know each other, you discover these valued colleagues are charismatic. Plus, they live on the cutting edge of what is happening in their field or in their industry vertical. And you cannot wait for the next time you are invited to sit at their tables!
Perhaps I just described one of your colleagues or clients. Then again, perhaps I just described you. This week, identify the folks in your workplace and among your client base with various forms of Know It All Syndrome.
In the past, how have you behaved when working with them? Armed with the insights from this post, how will your behavior change to target a more collaborative, productive and innovative outcome?
Planning your next team, corporate or association meeting? Searching for a one-on-one catalyst to get you unstuck? Engage me to present a One Millimeter Mindset ™ program! Delivered virtually or in-person. Contact me here.
Babette Ten Haken | Change Catalyst | Purpose-Driven Professional Innovation | Cross-Functional Team Leadership | Trust-Based Client Retention | In Person & Virtual Speaker, Consultant, Coach, Author |
Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of One Millimeter Mindset™ Speaking & Consulting, catalyzes trust-based, purpose-driven, cross-functional leadership. She leverages Voice of the Customer and storytelling to translate across communication and collaboration disconnects impacting successful business outcomes across people and professional disciplines. Babette is a cross-functional business-oriented STEM professional, qualitative Voice of the Customer facilitator, and Six Sigma Green Belt (Quality). She is a member of the ASQ, SHRM, PMI, the National Speakers Association. Her playbook of cross-functional collaboration, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com. Contact Babette here.