I often find myself in some intense or passionate discussions with people and as the conversation continues, I realize that I have the answers they're looking for, but don't want to come off as a know-it-all. But I really do want them to have the right facts. It's a constant battle I have with myself. How do I share my knowledge without coming off as a smarty-pants?
Here are eight things I try to do to share truth, without being a know-it-all
1. Stop assuming
One of the hardest things to do is not assume those around us know what we know. All too often, we incorrectly assume people know the facts or know how we are feeling. However, when you use words like "obviously" or phrases like "didn't you know" you come across as condescending and people immediately stop listening to you.
The best way to share truth kindly is to talk to people like people, not like you know more than them.
It's important for anyone you are talking to to understand what you are thinking and why you think that way. Explain your thoughts and where they came from. If you are fact checking, introduce the truth carefully. Start off with "Really? Because I heard ... " then back up your thoughts with a credible source or an explanation.
Sharing your thoughts and opinions with an explanation helps those around you relate to what you are saying instead of feeling corrected or chastised.
3. Be open and listen
Even if you "know all the answers", listen to their side of the conversation or argument. Everyone deserves to have their explanation and opinions heard.
Even if you know the facts already, remember that listening is the right thing to do. You'll gain a deeper knowledge and understanding if you truly listen to what other people have to say. Who knows? Maybe you'll be convinced by their side of the story.
4. Remember you are not in a courtroom
You are discussing things with your partner or friend - you are not in front of a judge, you are not arguing your closing statement before a jury and you do not only have this one chance to voice your opinion. Take a moment to breathe. Because you're not in a courtroom, you can talk and then listen and then talk some more. Go back and forth in the discussion, get deeper into the topic and be ready to learn from each other.
People don't like being told they are wrong but people do enjoy learning about a unique perspective or way of approaching life. Asking questions about their perspective and offering yours in return turns a "know-it-all" lecture to an engaging conversation. Questions are key when having a discussion.
6. Think before you speak
This should really be one of the first suggestions, but it's a good thing to remember during an entire discussion. Before you open your mouth, think through what you are going to say. Remember, there is never a need to insult people or attack them personally.
7. Don't be afraid to admit you're wrong
Admitting fault actually puts you in the right. You are taking the moral high ground by admitting you've made a mistake. If you follow this tactic, you'll be amazed at how this will actually make you "more right" than basically any argument you could make.
After you've both voiced your truths, make sure you both understand what compromise you came to. Say it out loud and move forward together to avoid misunderstandings. That way, you both end of being "right" at the end of any argument.
One last point - we all want to be right, but more importantly we want to connect with others. The best way to do this is to follow these suggestions and create deep, meaningful conversations ... even if that means keeping your "correct" opinion to yourself.
Christa is a part time photographer, part time writer and full time lover of life. She loves eating chocolate chip cookies and singing (but not at the same time). She has her degree in political science.