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Are You an Expert or a Know-It-All?
In virtually every social or business engagement there is one person who seems determined to convince us that he or she is an expert on a variety of topics.
The pattern is quite typical.
Based on a small nugget of information they tell everybody what they "know" and how they should respond to this critically important information.
I think of the many emails I receive from friends calling me to action based on some urban legend or myth that makes it into the internet biosphere.
Have any of you seen an email from this person? Your friend forwards an email reading something like this; "For decades car companies have been buying up patents that will make our cars go 100 miles on a gallon of water only to quash them so their buddies in the oil industry can get rich.
Call your congressman now and tell him to make GM build cars we can fuel with our garden hose.
" Most of us think it is silly that car companies would pass up on that kind of competitive advantage for more than two or three milliseconds but some believe it to be irrefutable fact.
More so, they think we should all believe it as well.
With little or no research these people will share incorrect information with EVERYBODY they encounter.
They forward emails to the world without investigating the issue for a minute.
Their desire to be admired by the crowd overpowers common sense and logical thinking to the point they lose all credibility.
But, since they don't recognize it as such, they shout their message frequently and loudly hoping people will see them as an expert in something...
I am sure a psychologist could share the root of this condition better than I so I will leave it to them to fill in the details of this section.
What these well-intentioned folks do not realize is that they are undermining their position with every repetition of a falsehood.
In math and science the principle is called an inverse relationship.
The more something is done the less effect it has on the desired outcome.
As their reputation builds it is not long before they are seen as nothing more than a blow hard or "know-it-all.
" They lose power and influence in social and business settings.
The "know-it-all" shares opinion not knowledge.
Contrast this with another, far rarer, person.
These special individuals have invested the time to research a topic deeply and carefully.
They understand the nuances of an issue in great depth and can back up what they say and do with clear, incontrovertible, evidence.
Interestingly, they never seem to argue with others or try to convince them to believe they simply share their knowledge and let others decide what to do with it.
There is a sense of confidence that allows them to share information with others in a non-threatening way.
Should someone disagree they sit quietly with an open mind and listen carefully and honestly.
They have the confidence to know that, should they be proven wrong, it is OK to make adjustments to their belief based on new evidence.
Should a debate be necessary they can conduct it with intelligence and compassion.
They engage in a process of mutual discovery not badgering and name calling.
In a room full of people they are regarded as an "expert" in their field and are generally well liked by most (except for the know-it-all of course).
"Experts" share knowledge not opinion.
For much of my 45 years I was seen as the "know-it-all"; I was even referred to as Cliff Clavin from the TV show Cheers on multiple occasions.
Cliff had broad but shallow knowledge of many things yet caved easily when challenged because he never took the time to understand anything in depth.
As I grow and mature I have purposely chosen to become a true expert in my field.
I've worked hard, studied and completed research to know what I know and have the ability to back it up if called upon to do so.
Contradictory views do not threaten me, they energize me.
As a result I have better relationships with those around me.
By listening more and saying less I have built additional influence and power within my community.
Are you striving to become an expert or settling for being a know-it-all? I would encourage you to take the path of becoming an expert.
Put yourself in a position to share your knowledge not your opinion!