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How to Spot a Know-it-all

By Beth Sunny
Posted Friday, December 3, 2004

You can spot Know-it-alls usually in the introduction section of the class. They will volunteer their vast educational background or their years of service or their fancy title. Know-it-alls will tout their impressive work history or the books they have read. They will make side comments that speak to their knowledge and maybe some side comments that you have left something out of your lecture. Don't take the bait. Don't let them goat you into defending you or your work. This is not a competition. They don't want to prove that you are stupid; they just want recognition for their smarts. Many trainers take the bait and find they are in a battle of wits for intellectual superiority. In that battle, you will always lose. Instead of teaching the material the students came to learn, you are teaching the students that you are insecure about your knowledge. Even if you maybe are insecure, there is no sense in showing it to the students. So don't engage the Know-it-all in a battle.

By recognizing them early on, you can begin to engage them in helping you out with tasks during the day. Call on them for answers to questions you are quite sure they will know. Use them to help stir conversation and answers from others in the class. By keeping a Know-it-all busy and feeling important, you will be able to have an ally instead of a foe.

About the Author
Beth Sunny is a writer, publisher, and computer trainer. She owns Software Training Resources (STR), a courseware company known for their "QuickSteps to Learning" training manuals. STR launched an exciting web site in January of 2001. The web site is specifically for the Computer Training Industry - ( The site offers a place for individuals in the Computer Training Industry a place to advertise their business, correspond with others in the industry, find training products, and discover software tips and read great articles relating to computer training. Visit the site today! (


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