"The Know-it-All" Keys to Relating to the "know-it-all"(and Other Difficult Personalities)--Learning from the Master
Article by Lauri McNair, MS
"Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone."--Colossians 4:6(NLT)
"Know-it-alls"--okay, we can all collectively roll our eyes. Know-it-alls, we all know one, but no one wants to be one. It's an offensive tag for sure. Know-it-alls are all around us. They are in the workplace, our families, perhaps our homes. A challenging personality to relate to given their tendency to be opinionated, judgmental, and condemning. Pontificating, giving unsolicited advice, offering a solution when you only wanted an ear or becoming upset, angry, and offended when their counsel is not heeded...sound familiar?
Many assert that at the root of this personality lie feelings of insecurity, inferiority, and poor self-esteem hence, the genesis of this style of relating. Realizing that we are relational beings, and that most of us long to connect with others, there are many insights, views, suggestions and opinions on how to "deal" with this difficult personality--ignoring, confronting, challenging, reverse psychology, etc. to name a few.
Yet, by turning to God's word, we are given a key that gives us an interesting insight into relating to someone with a challenging personality, and interestingly enough, it begins with an introspective look at ourselves. The Bible tells us that ALL have sinned and come short of God's glorious standard(Romans 3:23). We have all missed the mark. Realizing that we are all flawed, yet God's love for us does not waiver or change, puts a lot in perspective.
Learning from the Master Jesus' style of relating is our blueprint; He is the Master teacher. Only Jesus was sinless--perfectly human and perfectly divine all at the same time. He encountered numerous difficult personalities while He walked the earth. He used great wisdom and was very contemplative and thoughtful as He interfaced with others. We would do well to study His responses, His pointed questions, as well as His orchestrated silence throughout the Gospels. He was careful not to be baited into efforts to provoke Him into futile quarrels.
For further study on how Jesus responded to difficult people see: 1. Luke 15 2. Mark 15 3. John 8
Points to Consider: 1. Realize we are all flawed and that none of us gets it right all the time. (Romans 3:23) 2. Be slow to respond. We do not always have to offer a quick response or rebuttal. (James 1:19) 3. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance on how to respond. (James 1:5)
The next time you are faced with a challenging personality, ask yourself, "What did Jesus say?" "How did Jesus respond?" Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to respond in the capacity Jesus did. This is a spiritual discipline. It is really hard work because we largely react from a fleshly, soulish stand-point. We typically respond through the emotion that the given situation evokes--anger, fear, frustration, etc. Responding from a spiritual perspective takes deliberate practice, prayer, and willful submission to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.