Several years ago I got a hot tub. Before it was delivered I needed to prepare the space making sure I prepared a flat, solid surface as a base. I did my research, found out how deep I needed to dig, what I should use in the layers, in what order and what depth. Then I began the process of digging.
One afternoon during my digging party the guy I was dating stopped by and proceeded to tell me I was digging wrong. Seriously? How does one dig wrong? It wasn’t like I was holding the tool by the spade and trying to use the handle. He promptly went out to his truck, got his own shovel and proceeded to take over the party.
Now don’t get me wrong, I truly appreciated him helping; it was just the approach that struck me. Digging wrong. Seriously.
Every once in a while I will run across someone in transition that is a self-appointed know-it-all-been-there-did-it-more.
You know the type: you have an opinion and it is wrong because they know all about the subject. If you had the flu for a few days they had it for a month. If you worked as a server in college they ran the restaurant in high school. If you oversaw a department they oversaw the entire North American division.
I think sometimes these people are such peacocks because they crave attention due to lack of self-worth or fear. They are so afraid that no one will value them or hire them that they constantly have to prove their worth, intelligence, digging prowess to anyone and everyone.
In doing so they end up alienating everyone around them rather than enlisting allies. Even if you like them you start to not want to be around them because they begin to annoy the heck out of you.
If you are very close to this person and have the ability to be frank with them without them taking offense and even listen to you – please tell them to stop. It is hurting their job searching and networking. Just be blunt and tell them they are coming across as an ass.
Most likely they will not listen, remember, they know it all so how could you possibly think they are doing something wrong. Yet they will still expect you to make introductions for them and help them in their search.
This can create a dilemma, especially if you are friends, related or they know where the bodies are buried. It is okay to say no, you just have to be tactical in how you proceed. But they have no problem asking you; which makes you cringe because every person you have introduced them to has, after five minutes of listening to them, looked at you like, “What did I ever do to you to deserve this?”
If they want an introduction to a prospect you can always tell them that you really do not know this person very well and are not comfortable making the introduction, perhaps they know someone with a stronger connection that could help.
Of course you could always spin it a bit and put it back on them. If they are pushing for help or an introduction you could tell them that you are just absolutely swamped and then – here is the kicker kids: say in a lighthearted, half-joking and even a bit of self-depreciating humor state, “I’m surprised with all your connections and history that you haven’t found a better way to meet them than me! Seriously, I bet if you wanted to you could meet them tomorrow – you don’t need my help.” You gotta sell it.
Use this same technique and delivery when your realize you want to remain on good terms with the remainder of your contacts and they press you for more. Simply stating, “Gee, I don’t know who would be a good connection for you, you probably ought to find a better source because all my leads have turned into duds!” It is all in the delivery.
Telling these types flat out no won’t work. It will not register and might send them into overdrive.
Oh, and how do you know if YOU are one of these people? Easy – do the women and small children run screaming at your presence? Just kidding.
How do people respond to you when they see you again? Are they friendly? Or do they stay on the other side of the room avoiding eye contact? When you meet someone new do you find yourself interrupting them to tell them your story?
When speaking to people do you notice them start to close themselves off from you, either by crossing their arms, taking a small step or leaning back or even less subtle signs of eye rolling, wandering eyes or sighing?
These are all pretty good indicators that we recognize you as knowing it all, we pretty much don’t care and just don’t want to hear it.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.