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#667842 03/06/11 04:19 PM
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I am always working to learn and grow and improve my skills. In that vein I would like to ask for some assistance and feedback.

Today one of my fellow ethics students called me a "Know It All". I haven't had anyone use that term about anyone else since third grade, I think, so it first struck me as baffling. My second thought was that it's denigrating having knowledge, which also seems really odd to me. Isn't that like telling a basketball player that he's a make-hoops-all-the-time? Why do we live in a culture where having knowledge is somehow bad? But then my third thought was that she was trying to express some inner upset and that whatever words she chose to use I should work on figuring out what I did to cause the inner upset so that I don't upset others in that way going forward.

It's interesting because I'm in two different classes and they have two different dynamics.

First - Statistics. A great deal of the class waits for my weekly posts, because I post with visuals and examples, and I'm told by many class members that my posts are far more informative than the book is. Some have asked me to privately tutor them. Others have asked for help on specific questions. The teacher has me double check the assignments he posts and let him know that they're working and about typos. So I feel very helpful there, I put in extra hours to help the class thrive, and I get a lot of happy feedback because of all of my extra posts. They like my extra posts and want to read them. They would be upset if I stopped. Nobody has ever scolded me for being a "know it all" in statistics class even though, if someone posts something that is inaccurate, I gently help them understand why it's inaccurate. They are thankful I help them. I'll note that part of the syllabus *asks* us to respond to each others' posts in this way.

Now in the ethics class I post far LESS than in the Statistics class, but I do still post responses on other peoples' posts, and again the syllabus says we should. It's a discussion based class. If someone posts saying "shoplifters are rare" I'll do the research and post the figures about shoplifting rates or employee theft rates. If someone posts saying "Hospital rates are set by insurance companies" I'll post numbers from my latest hospital bill where the hospital would have charged $500 for a procedure and my insurance company only paid $300 of it - so someone without insurance would have paid far more than the insurance rate. So it's not that I'm yelling and saying "You're wrong" (which some students do). I am offering information to the discussion that is meaningful.

But apparently one student (or I suppose you could say "at least" one student, taking the statistics point of view on this) feels that that behavior is being a "know it all" which is very, very bad.

It makes me feel even more as if I just don't want to post in that ethic's class forum any more because it seems people want to make their posts and that's it, not discuss the posts at all. Which maybe *is* the solution here. But I would love any insight into any of this, and any suggestions for ways I can polish my behavior to hopefully be less upsetting to a person like this student in the future.


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Lisa, do you know the context (or attitude) the other student had when she called you a "know it all"?

If her words came across as derogatory, then it is possible she is jealous or that you somehow (in her mind) "Burst her bubble." If you posted a rely with statistics to her post/info, she may have thought you were trying to "top her", which is something a friend does to me all the time. (that used to really bother me till I began looking at her in a different light - that she just needed to feel involved.)

How do you start your posts when adding statistics to the information that someone else brought up?

If you start out with something like, "I found so-and-so's post very interesting so did some research to further my own knowledge on the subject and found that...." this is an approach that others should feel good about and maybe even get involved in a discussion with you about it.

Personally, I think of you as a mentor because you are very knowledgeable on many subjects. So, if I were you, I would take the "know it all" phrase as a compliment - regardless of how your fellow student meant it. She just must be insecure.

Last edited by Phyllis-Folk/Myth; 03/06/11 05:15 PM.

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I think Phyllis has it on the nose - in a case like this, someone feels you are trying to 'one up' them, or worse, make them look like a fool.

I know I am very sensitive to that. I am used to being a 'smarter than most' type person and enjoy my knowledge being acknowledged and even appreciated. When someone comes along and knocks my ideas down, it feels like a personal insult.

I don't mind someone correcting me in statistics or showing me how to do hoops, because I am bad in those things and accept that. So that is fine and helpful to me.

But besting me on my OWN turf...hard to accept. And unpleasant.

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The student made it clear she was upset with my posts and did not want me making any post in response to her posts going forward.

Here is the start of a sample post I have made in that forum, not to her (to keep her identity private). It was in regards to the idea that hospitals set their rates based on insurance company rates.

Dear xxxx -

This is a fascinating subject and one I'd love to discuss!

I recently got a statement from my insurance company. I use Fallon in MA. Here is the grid of a few of the lines:

Service: surgical services
Hospital charged: $16
Fallon willing to pay: $4.50


So I listed a few of the prices and explained that these were actual items off of a recent bill I received.

I'm confused about the notion of "topping her" in a college class discussion. Could you help to explain that further?

My approach to this particular upset situation is that whatever point of view she is coming from, I have upset her. So for my own growth I need to learn how not to upset people who are coming from that point of view, whatever it is. That is, it could be tempting to take it as a compliment or to say this situation is "not my fault". But as a half of the interaction I do accept my part in upsetting her and I want to strive to be more aware of it in the future so I do not upset people. I will undoubtedly encounter this same type of individual in the future and I would hope I can handle the situation better next time, if I learn from this.


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The real question is why do you care what some random person thinks? You are doing something that is helpful for others and that feels good to you so who cares about the opinion of one person with low self esteem.

I post stuff in forums all the time that really upsets people or maybe makes me come across as a bully or self important or other not so nice things I've been told. I really don't care if somebody is uncomfortable with what I do and who I am especially if they have the balls to tell me to my face that only makes it funnier to me.

In the end it's their problem not mine. If what I do or say helps one person even in the smallest way then making other people uncomfortable is of no concern to me. Why do you feel the need to get along with everybody in your class? Is that key to your learning?


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Lisa, did you see how I explained above how I saw this?

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By saying "topping her", I am referring to the possibility that she is basically either an insecure person and strives to show some wisdom or strengths that make her feel better, or she is a high achiever and possessive and does not want to know that someone else knows as much or more than she does. She apparently wants all who read her post to think that she has the only/best information. These two personality types may feel that someone is just trying to post a better answer (topping her) than she did.

When I used to get angry or hurt someone follows up my news (like showing off my accomplishment is learning a new beading style with my Native American projects) with a "well...you should see what I did" or "my daughter makes the the most beautiful...", to me that was like saying, "Yeah, well you are not as good as..."

One day, years ago, I was complaining to my son that this person was always bursting my bubble. Son's response was, "So - don't carry around any bubbles." I learned to not get upset by just seeing her in a different light.

Last edited by Phyllis-Folk/Myth; 03/06/11 05:14 PM.

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It is an interesting concept to me, to be upset that someone else knows more than me. I think my environment may have been fairly unique. I am not sure how to even talk about this without it feeling uncomfortable, which then bothers me. Discussions about intelligence seem taboo in our society.

Here I go with a metaphor. If I was a gifted basketball player and had grown up in a household of gifted basketball players who mentored me, it would be fine to talk about that. It might even be expected. People see that set of genetic traits plus investment of effort to be fine to talk about.

However, instead my parents are both gifted intellectually and I was brought up being trained in using those gifts. We played a lot of scrabble and boggle. We read fascinating books and talked about them. My mom went for her masters in communication and we talked about the ethics and subliminal advertising and other items in her books.

Both belong to Mensa as do I. We are always surrounded by people who have more knowledge in any given subject. My dad also belongs to the triple-9 society (Mensa is only the top 98%, the triple-9 is the top 99.9%). So when we go to those events there are people with amazing talents and skills.

I'm not sure it has ever occurred to me that it is "bad" ("emotionally upsetting") to talk about a given topic. It is not "bad" that someone else knows more about something than I do. In these circles I run into experts quite frequently and it thrills me. I love to learn what they know. If I get to talk with someone who is an expert in search engines I love to hear their thoughts. It doesn't occur to me that they are trying to be "better than me" let's say because knowledge is good for everyone in my mind. I am thrilled they are sharing their knowledge and that I can improve my own thoughts.

At times they ask me to talk about the things I know and I am happy to share. The questions they ask are wonderful.

I realize there's no way for me to be an expert in any field because that is not what I have chosen to be. I'm not an expert in ASP. I'm not an expert in database design. I have skills but I'm always eager to learn more.

I suppose I could say that this posting I'm doing here makes me uncomfortable. However it's not because I myself am upset by what it says, but because I worry greatly that my posting will upset other people, because that has been my experience in the past. I want to try to say again that I'm not wanting anyone to be upset by this posting, I'm trying to help put my own life in context to show how I developed to my current mindset, and I realize it undoubtedly is quite different to other peoples' mindsets and that is fine and natural.

So I would like to - and need to - learn more about the mindset of people who are upset when someone is talking to them and offers a different point of view in an area. Can you help me to understand what it is about the process that is upsetting? Maybe by breaking it down I can find the stage that the upset begins and how to mitigate it. Could we try a sample one - slowly and carefully - or would that be really too upsetting?


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Ok - let us take me for an example and delve into my feelings/emotions/insecurities.

When I showed a bracelet I had just finished beading to this friend, I was very proud of my accomplishment. It was my first attempt at Peyote stitch and I thought I did a great job on it.

Her response: "Oh, how nice. (kind of mumbling) You know, my daughter is getting so many requests to make jewelry for friends and customers of hers. She does exquisite work! It is so professional and she is in such high demand for her work."

This made me feel that she thought my work is of no value at all and that my ability to learn and create means nothing in comparison to her daughter's work.

How do you see this interaction? What do you pull from it?

Last edited by Phyllis-Folk/Myth; 03/06/11 05:25 PM.

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It's a fair question to ask! Is it "worth it" to worry about how other people are emotionally impacted by the things we do? Is it a losing proposition? No matter what you do someone could always be upset, so why worry about it at all?

I suppose the answer for me is that I try to follow the philosophy of:

"If you can, help others;
if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them."
-- Dalai Lama

This is what I have chosen and it is fine if other people choose other mindsets to follow!

So in my mindset, yes I absolutely want to help people. I want to help them in a way that does not hurt them. Will I ever be 100% perfect? No, I am human. But I do still have this goal to strive for.

It may be that a given day is the turning point in a person's life. This is the day that they are choosing between leaving an abusive partner or marrying them. It could be that my care and concern is that final nudge that gets them on a healthy path. If I do the best I can every day, I can leave a trail of people who are happier, healthier, and more serene behind me. Those people then will be better able to help *their* circle of friends. So my efforts ripple outwards. This is the legacy I would like to leave behind me on each day. To me this is very important and to me this is worth working on and striving towards, in my own life.

It is quite fine and natural that other people have different paths and different views, and follow their own philosophies!


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