We all know people who are too smart for their own good, and need to show everyone just how much they know. But, are these know-it-alls people dangerous narcissists?
While narcissists are more likely to be know-it-alls than your average person, not all narcissists have this tendency. And, not all know-it-alls are narcissists.
Are All Narcissists Know-It-Alls?
One personality trait that defines narcissists is that they love to be right. This make them more likely to —
- Develop specific knowledge that other people are not likely to have
- Feel the need to tell you when they know something you don’t
- Be overconfident in their abilities and unable to acknowledge their weaknesses
However, many narcissists avoid putting themselves in to a position where they can be proven wrong. In particular, many narcissists avoid taking positions of factual issues that have a right or wrong answer. This is particularly true of covert narcissists and other forms introverted narcissists:
Many narcissists gravitate to jobs such as medicine, law, education, or politics, where they can accumulate special knowledge. And, climb an authority hierarchy where their opinions can be expressed as facts when backed up by their title or position.
Are All Know-It-Alls Usually Narcissists?
Many know-it-alls are not narcissists. A wide variety of personality types fall in to overly intellectual behaviors, which makes them seem like a know it all. For instance:
- Smart people with poor social skills
- Children or adults who excited by learning
- People who experienced overly strict upbringing or educations
Hermoine Granger, the classic know-it-all girl from Harry Potter, would not be a narcissist for instance.
In order to be a narcissist, you must exhibit other traits of narcissism, including —
- Need for admiration
- Superficial or exploitative relationships
- Lack of empathy
- Identity disturbance
- Difficulty with attachment and dependency
- Chronic feelings of emptiness an boredom
- Vulnerability to life transitions
For more help spotting a narcissist in your life, check out my article —
How to Overcome Know-It-All Narcissists
If you truly have a narcissist that has to show off just how smart they are, here are a few things you can do to help deal with them —
- Don’t react or show little interest in what they tell you
- Find ways that they can be useful to you, and let them you admire them for their skills in that area
- Don’t look at them or break off a conversation you are having if they interrupt you, until after you are done talking
I find that the best thing you can do is give your know-it-all narcissist a way they can be smart without annoying you. Narcissists are driven to be the best, and can be a powerful asset if you let them be.
When they do overstep their bounds, don’t give them the attention — either positive or negative — that they desire. This will train the narcissist not to continue with the behavior. This is most effective when you can hint to them what behavior you would prefer, and rewarding them with the attention they seek when they act in the way.