Friday, February 24, 2012

How to Handle Know-it-All's

If I hear the words "you should do this...." or "you aren't doing this correctly" or "why are you doing that", one more time, I may flip a lid!!!

We all know that people LOVE to share their own experiences and stories (hence this blog..ha ha) matter what the topic may be. This is especially true when you have children! People always warned me that "people will always give you unwanted advice." No doubt, the predictions came true...even just weeks after having my son!

My son had Colic...and nothing...I mean nothing would calm him down...(that is until we discovered my secret Colic Cure). I once had another mom tell me that I "didn't buy the right kind of swing" to stop him from crying! And you ask how I responded....I simply stated..."oh ok" (lame I know).

My first instinct is to tell people "shut-up" or "I really don't care for your advice," but in the same respect I also understand that people are just trying to help by sharing, and it really does no good (for me or them) to roll my eyes or to fake listen! But at the same time, I don't want to lie and say something like "thanks, I will try that," when in the back of my mind I have no intentions of even revisiting their advice. So what do you do or say??

I have come up with a couple of phrases to help you respectfully respond to this unwanted advice! These phrases will help the "know-it-all" understand that you have heard and acknowlege their advice! Sometimes people just want to be heard!

Even if you haven't had to deal with this problem yet, it is nice to have some ammo in your back pocket when it does happen, because it will! The phrases below I would use for aquaintances, strangers, or that old grandma in line at the grocery store
  • I appreciate your concern. Thank you.
  • Thanks! We know that advice was hard earned through the years.
  • Thanks! Um, that certainly is some advice! (This requires a bright smile so they don't catch your sarcasm.)
  • Thank you for your advice.
Thanks to WebMD for some of these phrases!

Now if it is a family member, or a good friend of yours, your best bet, in my opinion would be to confront them about their unwanted advice. I say this because hopefully you have a closer relationship and are open enough to discuss your thoughts and feelings on the unwanted advice. Here is an example of a real-life conversation with my mother-in-law in regards to my son's diaper rash

Julie: My son keeps getting diaper rash, and I am not sure why, I have tried everything!

MIL: Well are you changing him enough?

Julie's Thoughts: (Now I am getting irritated/offended, because in my mind, when someone says this, it means that they are insinuating that I am neglecting my son and his needs! Did she ever think that maybe it may be something else!) 

Julie: I change him at least every hour, I am not sure if he has an allergy to the polyester in the cloth diapers. It is kind of upsetting that you ask if I am changing him enough, it makes me feel as if you think I am neglecting my son.

MIL: Oh No! I had no intentions of doing that, it is just the first thing that comes to my mind. I did not mean it at all like that! I am so sorry.

Julie: Thank You! I am glad you can understand where I am coming from (in short).

It seemed to go over very well this way, and I didn't harbor bitterness against her for thinking that I am neglecting my son!

How do you respond to unwanted advice?

Do you remember a specific incident where you had to deal with a Know-it-All?


  1. Yeah I know how you feel. I'm too nice and wont say what I'm really thinking. So this one time we were at this Greek party and Alex was 2 months old. He feel asleep on me and we were on our way out the door. This little old Greek lady that didn't speak English starting telling me to hold his head (in Greek.) She grab my hand and put it on his head. He was just laying on my shoulder sleeping!! His head wasn't just bobbing around. I was really mad but I just walked away. Sometimes I wish I could say something in those moments but she wouldn;t of understood me anyways. Later Paul told me she was also saying to put him in a crib. Idk it still bothers me to this day. I did almost lose it a few days ago when my MIL and Paul's aunt were telling me what to do. Paul's Aunt kept telling me i need to put the evil eye pin on Alex all the time. Well guess what lady I'm not Greek so I don't have to do anything! One thing that annoys me is one of my friends works in a daycare and she tells me what Alex should be doing or me. I get that you work with babies but you dont know what its like to have your own. Its a little more annoying to get advice from people who dont have children. Getting advice from my friends with young kids doesn't bother me because sometimes there advice helps. Okay I'll stop ranting now.

    1. Ha ha! I get I hit a soft spot!! LOL!! What is the evil eye pin?? I am curious now@

  2. Great suggestions, I need to keep them in mind next time have to deal with a know-it-all! =P

  3. My favorite responses are "I'm glad that worked for you" and "I appreciate you sharing with me"

    If I'm ever asked for advice I try to give it in a nice way too.. 'have you thought about trying...?' or asking if someone wants my opinion before I give it helps to keep my name off the know it all list...

    1. These are good ways to suggest things, because some things can be very helpful!

  4. This was fun reading and great suggestions!

  5. LMAO I am right on board with you on this. I hate unsolicited advice. Drives me nuts. I think people generally are trying to be helpful but don't come off that way. I work with a bunch of know it alls and trust me we have our verbal wars.

    Kevin :) Great post

  6. Unsolicited advice isn't always welcome - however it is human nature for others to want to help if they can. And if you ever listen to yourself - I would bet you do it too...we ALL do it w/o realizing. However, it's one thing for someone to offer a suggestion and another when someone is being critical of something you say or do. If others never offered what they know - you could be missing out on some valuable information. This is how we all learn and gain knowledge.

    I've found the best way to offer any advice is to first start out by saying - make I make a suggestion? This tends to put people not on the defensive.

    Then there are the people who are know-it-alls - those are the people that irk my gizzard. They are unwilling to accept that there may be a better way to do something, or that someone else may know something that they don't and no matter what you have to say - they are right and you are wrong.

    And should I have offered some advice for your baby crying all the time - I would asked if you tried swaddling him tightly in a blanket or tried keeping socks on his feet ALL the time. For the diaper rashes - I would have suggested you try a barrier ointment - and not Desitin or something of the like - but a true barrier ointment. Plus, I would have told you about how one ointment actually caused my son's skin to look like not just a diaper rash but as if he had a severe sunburn - it ended up that he was allergic to that ointment.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I must agree that some advice people give is helpful, and the one thing that helped my son when he had colic was from another mother who had experienced colic. I do also agree that most people are truly trying to help...but just don't know how to get it out the right way, especially for someone sensitive like me!

      I love your advice...making a suggestion without critiquing what I am not doing:)I did try swaddling with no luck, however I never heard of the socks thing! I am curious about this and wonder if it could have helped! I also like the way you brought up the true barrier ointment vs. desitin...great suggestion, something a new, sleep deprived mom might not think of. It sounds like I would like to hear some of your advice because you have the right idea about communication, making people less defensive. Thanks again for sharing!

  7. Having kids has taught me that every baby is so different. Suggestions are great as long as people don't think that their way is the only or best way because it worked for their kid. Things that worked for Jeremiah did not work for Caleb and vise versa. James Dobson wrote about a couple who had 2 "perfect(or close to it)" kids and told everyone else what they were doing wrong because their kids were not as compliant, smart, their. This couple ended up having a "surprise" baby when their older 2 were teenagers. This baby was completely different from birth and gave them a run for their money. They realized that they did not really know the first thing about raising a child like their 3rd and stopped giving advise :)