Whether it's the man in the corner cubicle who won't stop bragging about his fabulous summer home or the woman who's overzealous in sending out memos, we all have coworkers we generally aim to avoid. But what if you're dealing with a colleague who's constantly aiming to call the shots, interfere with your process, and upstage you with his so-called brilliance on every occasion? There's nothing like a know-it-all coworker to make an otherwise decent work environment seem unpleasant, so if you have one on your hands, here's what to do.
1. Keep your distance
First, the somewhat obvious. The easiest way to deal with an obnoxious, all-knowing colleague is to stay as far away as possible. But that might take some effort on your part -- namely, by going out of your way to volunteer for projects the offending coworker is unlikely to be working on. To that end, you might need to boost your skill set to get assigned elsewhere, but in doing so, you'll serve the dual purpose of avoiding that dreaded colleague while increasing your personal value at the same time.
2. Aim to match that coworker's knowledge
It's hard to prove an arrogant coworker wrong when you don't have enough information to refute his or her assertions. If you're tired of that colleague who always seems to have all the answers, become someone who's equally capable. Conduct more research, take classes, or do whatever it takes to become more knowledgeable in your field. Not only will you have an easier time standing up to that know-it-all, but you'll also help move your own career forward in the process.
3. Learn to appease
Some people just need to hear that they're right. If you have an overbearing coworker on your hands, sometimes a simple acknowledgment can go a long way. The next time that colleague butts in with a supposedly better way of doing things, don't brush him or her off. Instead, reply with something along the lines of "Thanks, that's a good suggestion," and then move forward as you see fit. Going that route might buy you a temporary reprieve from that person's intrusions.
4. Try to benefit
There's nothing worse than an overbearing coworker who's incompetent and ill-informed. But often, you'll find that colleagues act like know-it-alls for a reason -- because they've actually done their research, put in their time, and believe they have the best solutions or approaches to whatever tasks you're collectively responsible for. Difficult as it may be to deal with that sort of personality, don't forget that working with this type of person has its benefits. For one thing, you might learn a thing or two and find ways to improve your own performance as a result. Second, if your know-it-all colleague is convinced he can do things better, he'll often volunteer to do just that, which means you might just lessen your own load in the process.
It's never easy having an overbearing coworker on your team, but if you land in that unfortunate situation, don't resign yourself to a miserable work existence. If you can't avoid that colleague, learn how to coexist as peacefully as possible with him or her. Not only will you cope better, but your manager will no doubt come to appreciate your people skills and patience.