Dear CV – How do I deal with a know-it-all?

Dear CV,

Noticed in last week’s TPS report that you mentioned a coworker who was told she has no idea how to do her job. Can you expand upon that for us? What kind of response do you suggest when CW’s insist they know what’s best for the entire company – despite this particular issue bing your area of expertise and not their’s?


Hi CC,

One common theme of all companies – there are always some people who think they can do your, hell everyone’s, job better than the person hired to do it. They are experts in everything (at least in their own minds). One of the easiest things to do is to criticize how others do their jobs. But, like the old saying goes, don’t judge someone until you have walked in their shoes.

The quick and dirty thing to do when your CW does this is to just tell him/her to bugger off. And, while that is hugely satisfying, it may not be the best for your career. But, speaking from experience, boy is it satisfying telling George to shut the hell up.

When it comes to George, he has a reputation in the company as being a blowhard, therefore I don’t worry what HR thinks when I tell him to kiss my cubicle chair flattened ass.

However, not everyone’s reputation is an HR poster for what not to do. Thus, my suggestion for most of you is to do an end-around – placate the offender, then put him/her in their place.

Start with asking for their opinion. This is the equivalent of giving a junky some heroin. Then, tell them about your experience. The history you have in your previous jobs/roles that makes you the expert in your field. Toss in phrases like, “in my experience”, “I’ve tried things similar to that, but…”, etc. As added bonus, roll your eyes just a little and casually wave your hand like you are trying to shoe a fly from your face. These statements (and actions) set the stage for you being the expert while pointing out that the CW is not. Yes, this placating and being artificially polite is sad, but it works.

And, if all else fails, tell the CW to shut the hell up and just walk away.


About CubicleViews

Observations, thoughts & random bitching about cube life, food, beer, wine, whiskey and sometimes politics. Living the dream in a 6×8 doorless polyester walled cell.
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3 Responses to Dear CV – How do I deal with a know-it-all?

  1. It makes me a little sad to realize that every company has a George. But then I picture a buffooning George of the Jungle slam headfirst into a tree and that makes me smile.

    The passive-agressive eye-roll backed up by “you’re an idiot” facts is a fantastic idea. Next time I get cornered, I’m using that. (Better for my lofty corporate goals than “EFF YOU SCOOTER!”)

  2. CubicleViews says:

    Thanks for the image of George slamming into the tree – I’m going to carry that one for a while.
    Funny though I always picture George more as Magilla Gorilla (

    Should have also mentioned that including a slightly under the breath “jackass” also helps.

  3. 30sGirl says:

    More sound advice from Dear CV. Excellent post!

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