my junior employee won’t stop sharing his “expertise”

A reader writes:

I run a seven-person government office. One of my direct reports is both not very experienced and not very good at his job, which requires extremely specific legal knowledge and a strong attention to detail. Despite this, he’s got an irritating habit of positioning himself as a subject matter expert around the office in small, unofficial, but rage-producing ways.

A few examples:

• He interrupted me while I was explaining the legal basis for a decision I had made to another direct report in order to let me know he “actually” had seen that decision and “actually” agreed with me (he was not initially part of the conversation I was having).

• During a training session he was taking as a refresher, he quizzed the students taking it for the first time on how they would handle various hypothetical situations.

• He has explained how to use certain research resources to our technical support staff — resources those exact staff members had sent to him, with instructions, weeks earlier.

He’s on a limited-term appointment and I’m already in the process of documenting other notable performance issues for the employment board to review when considering whether to extend his assignment. My question is, should I bring up this behavior at his next counseling session, and if so, how?

I try to address these issues in the moment (“Thanks Bobbin, but we’ll use the official guidance” or something similar) but he clearly has not registered that this is a recurring problem. I’m not worried about being undermined — absolutely everyone in the office has independently clocked this gentleman’s ability and authority levels correctly — but until and unless I can remove him, I am trying to be the most transparent and responsible manager possible. His behavior definitely irritates everyone else, and selfishly, I’d hate to undermine my own case for terminating his assignment by not providing all the guidance he can reasonably expect to perform well.

Good lord, yes, give it to him straight, for his own benefit and for the benefit of everyone he’s doing this too.

You can do that in the moment, and also in a big-picture conversation.

In the moment:

* If he does something again like interrupting you to let you know he “actually” agrees with you on something he has no expertise in, you can dryly say, “Yes, I’m not looking for agreement here.” (That would be rude in a vacuum, but it’s not rude in this context; it’s hopefully instructive to him.)

* If he does something like quiz other students in a training, you can say, “Actually, no, Jane is the one leading this training.” (Again, this would be rude in a vacuum, but it’s warranted here — and the other students will probably be grateful to you.)

* If you see him explaining people’s own areas of expertise to them, you can say, “Jane is actually our expert in this.” Or “I think Jane sent you those instructions last week, actually.” Or “Jane created this resource.” Or so forth. Just dryly stating the facts can do wonders to bring this type up short.

But it’s worth having a bigger-picture conversation too. You could say something like this: “I want to talk to you about a habit that will hold you back if you don’t address it. You frequently come across as if you’re asserting more expertise than the person you’re talking to, even when they have substantially more experience and expertise than you do. For example, last week with X and this morning with Y. This will make you seem out of touch and like you don’t understand the limitations of your own experience — and will actually make people think of you as less capable than you are since it comes across as missing nuance about your own role and the people you’re talking to. It’s also disrespectful to others, so it’s important than you get it under control.”

If he mainly does this to women (which I mention because it’s a common pattern), explicitly call that out too: “I’ve noticed you largely do this with women, which will reflect poorly on you in any office you’re in in the future.” Or if you really want to put him on the spot: “I’ve noticed you largely do this with women. Why do you think that is?”

And please accept the grateful thanks of all of his future colleagues for having this talk with him.

{ 286 comments… read them below }

  1. CupcakeCounter

    Bring it up often and in clear language (stop before you get to the “you are being a mansplaining ass” level though)

    1. JokeyJules

      definitely stop before “mansplaining” because he will likely mansplain “mansplaining” to you.

      1. Relly

        Well, actually, a lot of what people consider to be “mansplaining” is technically hahaha okay sorry I just wanted to mess with people, those guys are the worst.

        1. chi type

          This whole question made me realize just how careful one should be with the word “actually”. Haha. It even grated on me on Alison’s responses, like okay let’s all just stand around and have a pretentious actually duel. I may have been triggered. :P

            1. Jadelyn

              CollegeHumor has a new game show series on YouTube called “Um, Actually” where it’s geeks spotting the most pedantic, tiny errors in various fandom canon statements. And, like how on Jeopardy you have to start your answer with “What is…”, on this you have to start your answer with “Um, actually…”

              1. Alex

                I love that show! There’s also a little behind the scenes clip into the making of it, which is great because it shows how aware the host is that they’re simultaneously indulging some of the worst nerd behaviour and also (hopefully) making people more aware if they’re behaving like that socially and how obnoxious it is.

              2. SusanIvanova

                TelevisionWithoutPity’s comment section had a rule that no reply could being with “Um…” because it almost always started a statement guaranteed to cause bad feelings.

          1. dawbs

            It’s interesting, because the word ‘actually’ was one of the flags in getting my kid in for ASD screening (that jury is still out).
            ACTUALLY, my child is awesome (very awesome) but we did discuss condesplaining medical things to her pediatric neurologist (who kindly had NOT talked down to her and had used appropriate and adult terminology once he knew she understood the concepts and terminology) recently. I was both embarrassed and proud of her knowledge base AND that she’d been paying attention when we discussed things pre-visit :D.
            I’m working on watching that word in my life so there’s one less reason for her to use it

            1. The New Wanderer

              My darling children have definitely picked up “actually” from me and it is SO grating hearing it from them! Amusing, but grating. My mom was on my case about it years ago though, so I should have been expecting the karma.

              1. Nines

                Ufh! Same! Hearing my step son do it was driving me up the wall. And then I started noticing how often *I* said it… *hangs head*

            2. PlainJane

              This is the first time I’ve encountered, “condesplaining,” and I love it. It’s a great non-gendered alternative to, “mansplaining,” when you want to make the point in a gender-neutral way.

        2. RUKiddingMe

          Well actually…

          The ones that irritate me the most are the mansplainers who will turn around and say something is “femsplaininging” simply because a woman says something.

          They completely miss the whole social phenomena of men explaining things to women simply *because* they are women thing.

          “femsplaininging” like “institutionalized, systemic sexism against men” “reverse racism” etc. is not a thing boys!

          1. Lucy

            What is labelled femsplaining (etc) is often actually MOMSPLAINING. Momsplaining is indeed frequently aimed at men, but also at women who don’t have children, so it isn’t gendered in the same way.

            For those who don’t know, the most recent UK leadership election for the current prime minister ended up as a two horse race between two women. When one made comments on the unsuitability of the other by bringing up her childlessness, there was outcry, and she was forced to withdraw (childfree Theresa May was then the uncontested victor). That was nuclear momsplaining and the British people gave it a huge thumbs down.

            1. Observer

              Someone actually claimed that May is unsuited for the position because she has not children!? That has to be one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard. I think that she’s made some really bad calls, but her opponent deserved to lose.

              1. WS

                It was implied by Leadsom saying that because she had children she was the better choice. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard got called “deliberately barren” for not having children, but at least that wasn’t by her own party!

              2. Tom

                Not quite on topic- but may IS unsuited. (Basically just about any of the current batch of dinosaur politicians in the UK is ) but that`s not due to her having or not having children.
                That is a vile thing to say .

      2. Gazebo Slayer

        I’m surprised no one has showed up to reply to you with a mansplaining comment yet! :-)

    2. MuseumChick

      What about after he says something: “(dead silence for three or four pauses), You do realize I’m the expert in the research resources right?” Or, “(dead silence for three or four pauses) I’m sorry, what is your point?” Or “(Interrupt him) Fergus, you don’t have all the data/information on this to be trying to explain to others.”

      1. henrietta

        I would be willing to bet that dead silence will be taken as an invitation to expound further. Not that it’s not a good suggestion, but it would be better to have an alternative in one’s pocket in case he takes the ‘oh, they’re in thrall to me!’ ferry rather than the ‘oh, is that awkward silence?’ train.

      2. RUKiddingMe

        I did something like this to a mansplsiner once. He was trying to explain my subject expertise to me. I said, “you do realize that I wrote *the* book about that (dissertaion) right?”

        He was “actually” thinking about what someone else (male…surprise!) had to say, which was like one paragraph instead of 400+ pages, but yeah, go on dude…keep talking.

  2. Ginger

    The third bullet point would make me RAGE.

    OP – this is perfect example of be direct and speak up, NOW. Even as you try to remove him, no one wants to work in environment where this type of behavior is tolerated and not addressed. It makes you look bad to the good employees.

    1. Legal Beagle

      Yes! It is a service to him (if he’s willing and able to hear the message) but it’s also a service to his coworkers who are being annoyed and undermined by this behavior. Show your other reports that you see this and you are taking action.

    2. Gigi

      Agree 100%. If I was one of your staff I’d be wondering why this behavior was continuing and I’d be questioning your ability as a manager for not shutting it down.

      1. a1

        She has been addressing it in the moment, so her staff knows she’s shutting it down, or at least trying to. And they know she’s “on to” it. It just doesn’t stick. So, time for the “big picture” talk.

    3. kittymommy

      I don’t know if it would be the first or third bullet point for me, but together both of them would drive me into a homicidal rage.

    4. Clay on my apron

      I’m not sure about that, if he was doing it to me, I’d shut him down myself. I wouldn’t expect OP to do it for me.

    5. Observer

      That and the one about quizzing the other students. Just SOO inappropriate!

      Yes, please shut him down more explicitly and strongly in the moment. And DO have that big picture talk – followed up by an email, so that you have that in your back pocket. Perhaps the occasional in the moment shut down could also be in email or followed up by an email with a CC to relevant staff. eg on the quizzing cc the instructor when you explicitly tell Bobbin that he needs to leave the instructing to the instructor.

  3. irene adler

    Would it be okay for the remaining 5 reports to also use Allison’s scripts should they be the recipient of Bobbin’s “wisdom”?
    NOT suggesting the 5 reports speak to Bobbin regarding his behavior. Just thinking those other members of the refresher course could speak up and point out that “Actually, Jane is leading this session.”

    1. LKW

      I think so but it takes a subtler hand. It’s hard to challenge someone agreeing with leadership decisions without making yourself look like an ass “I’m glad you agree with leadership decisions” can sound really snarky. However, saying “Well Fiona is teaching the class; so I’ll rely on her expertise and coaching.” or “It’s great that you absorbed the information that Desdemona provided.” or “I’m glad that you’re getting the hang of things here. If you do have troubles, my door is always open to help you.”

      He’s trying to impress, and if it falls flat (not in a humiliating way, just as a reminder that others know more), I’d hope he’d be less apt to continue. But it won’t happen without guidance from the LW/manager.

      1. fposte

        I like those deflations, especially the last two–they’re very strategically positioning him as not the authority while superficially supporting his comment.

          1. Marthooh

            Bobbins believe that they can signal intelligence by saying things that are true; as far as they’re concerned, that’s the same as getting the right answers on a test. The message to get across to to them is : “Your words are right, but you yourself are wrong.”

            1. fposte

              It’s also cueing acceptable discourse for him; it’s the sophisticated equivalent of saying “What do we say? Thank you” for a toddler when grandma gives her a present.

            2. Floating Shift

              Thank you – I will now refer to people like this as “Bobbins.”
              I like the point you make about why people might do this — that they can signal intelligence, or perhaps show they are tuned into everything . . . but that this is an easy route to a misfire.

            3. Gazebo Slayer

              Yes. Also – I suspect a lot of younger people do this because it’s been encouraged or rewarded in school, or because they’ve gotten the impression they’re supposed to do this kind of thing at work to prove their “value” or “initiative” or some such. I know I did some of the latter when I was younger, and I cringe at some of my old behavior…

      2. irene adler

        Agreed- subtlety.
        I would be unwilling to just sit silently at a training session, for example, with him acting like he’s in charge. I would need to say something. My blood pressure would demand this.

      3. HarvestKaleSlaw

        I like these. I’ll add a couple more for coworkers:
        Politely: “Could you hold the comments for later? I really want to focus on what Fiona is teaching us.”
        Flatly: “Desdemona wrote that documentation.” (You can shut down level 10 mansplaining without any softeners).
        “Since I report to Annaliese, I need to be clear on what she wants us to do. I’m finding the questions distracting. Maybe they could wait until the end.”

      4. M

        For the coworkers he’s quizzing, the simplest is probably just “Oh, if you’re struggling with [concept], I think you should ask [teacher] to walk you through it again. I think she explained it really well!”

        Just assume he’s confused. Given he’s likely doing it because he thinks it makes him look smart, nothing better then being taken as a confused person struggling with the content to stop him. The same likely works for people he’s trying to explain their own resources to: “Yes, that’s right. What part of the resource are you struggling with? If you send me an email with what’s not working for you, I can take a look – just reply to the email I sent you with the instructions, and I’ll take a look this afternoon.”

          1. SusanIvanova

            Today is one of the days I wish this place had upvote buttons, because I can’t possibly respond to every clever comment :)

  4. Amber Rose

    Augh, he’s a ‘splainer. I work with one. Some people just can not resist the urge to talk about everything as if they are the world’s foremost expert. So annoying.

    They tend to be defensive too, so be prepared for pushback LW. And feel free to interrupt further ‘splaining about his actions with a firm, “this isn’t up for debate.”

    1. Urdnot Bakara

      Yep, reading this letter I was immediately wondering if OP was a woman because this is such mansplaining behavior. Glad Alison addressed it at the end of the response!

      OP, hope you can get rid of this guy!

      1. Splained at all day

        I actually have a coworker who will ‘splain to the men in the office as well. The women have a worse time of it (so it’s still gendered) but god help anyone who already knows what he’s rambling about. It’s infuriating.

        1. Splained at all day

          He’s a senior staff member too, and to folks not acquainted with our industry (we partner with lots of folks so this happens a decent amount) his long-winded explanations are interesting enough to actually be helpful, which encourages him.

          Side note — I’ve noticed a lot of that kind of gendered behavior has to do with respect as much as anything. I’ve had another woman’s great idea attributed to me (a woman) in a panel where the attributer was clearly in awe of my brilliance. Similarly, as I brute-forced my way into my coworker’s grudging respect, I’ve been able to cut off the ‘splaining much more quickly than before. He also won’t splain my own, current job to me anymore — now it’s just stuff I’ve had previous professional experience in.

          1. SusanIvanova

            Respect and confidence in their own abilities. I’ve been lucky and talented enough to work at top-tier places where everyone is highly skilled, so the men are secure enough to not feel intimidated if someone else is as smart or smarter.

        2. Lora

          Have a co-worker who is super frustrated at always being a contractor, never getting hired in full time – because he is a Splainer, though in his case also it’s to everyone including men. “Why won’t they hire me? I know literally EVERYTHING about this! I have ALL the expertise!” Except the part about how to get along with other humans…

    2. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD

      I work with one too and alternate between amusement and annoyed. He’s so oblivious that he totally misses my deadpan, “Fergus, I know that. I wrote the code”, “Fergus, actually you are wrong”, “Fergus, stop mansplaining because you don’t know what you are talking about”

      1. Essess

        Oh man… I dealt with one of those too! I was on a conference call that was trying to figure out what was going on in a piece of code. Someone on the call asked a technical question about whether the code retrieves information straight from the database. I started to answer that it does, when one of the men on the call talked over me and informed them that it did not … and then he went off into some long convoluted description of what the code did and insisting that it did not access the database (that was completely WRONG)… and I kept trying to speak and he would drown me out. It was not my most professional moment, but I actually yelled into the phone at the top of my lungs… ” I WROTE THAT CODE SO IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT ACTUALLY DOES, LET ME SPEAK!!!” There was stunned silence finally and I was able to tell them what they wanted to know.

        1. --E

          It may not have been your most professional moment, but I love you for doing it. I wonder how many of the folks on the call went, “Sheesh, if that guy had just shut up a moment, Essess wouldn’t have had to yell.” Probably more than you expect.

        2. Workerbee

          That is beautiful. I am sorry you had to get to that point, but glad you drove it between their eyeballs when you did. The man talking over you and splaying his incorrect & convoluted self-importance all over the call was the unprofessional one here, to my mind.

        3. MM

          I did something like this in a seminar recently. I’m still sort of agonizing whether it was the right thing to do, but regardless I am deeply sympathetic. The fact is that the failure to respect norms (not interrupting or overtalking) puts you in this position where you can’t say what you need to say without breaking those norms yourself, but you can’t help but worry it’ll still look bad for you. (Not you personally, I mean anyone in this position, as I was also.)

        4. Camellia

          Well, on a phone call the loudest one is the one who gets heard, so you had to raise your voice to be louder than his for the phone to let others hear you. I have to deal with this all the time. Usually I just repeat their name louder and louder until they finally hear me and shut up to find out what I want.

        5. Mockingbird

          Good for you! (It may not have been the most professional but sounds amazing haha.)

          I had one one time in person and literally couldn’t raise my voice enough to speak over him so I used the “talk to the hand”!!! Again not the most professional but it got the point across and stopped the interrupting!

        6. CM

          That IS a professional moment because sometimes you need to assert yourself! And you stopped that guy from misleading everyone and wasting their time. And you did all that without even using any bad words (except “actually”).

      2. Sk

        I worked with one of those people for a year and it was awful. At first I replied with things like “yes, I know”. When he kept at it I started saying “yes, I know, I have the certification”. When that didn’t work I started finishing his sentences for him. When that didn’t work I tried to talk to my boss about it, who responded “that’s just his personality”. That was the moment I decided I had to leave that god awful place.

    3. Creed Bratton

      I used to work with one of these. My favorite ‘splaining memory was when she loudly professed to be the expert regarding this particular medical situation (can’t remember the details) because “her best friend was in school to be a nurse.” The rest of us in the conversation (which included those with actual MDs) just rolled our eyes.

      On a side note: I feel like for every post I could cite a specific scene from The Office. Anybody else thinking of Oscar’s “actually” episode?

      1. AnonNurse

        Yeah, so not ok and would probably have made me laugh out loud in the moment from the surprise of watching it play out. But that’s just my social awkwardness. :-)

        Nurse here and no matter the subject, not ok to come up against medical professionals when you’re not one and claim to be an expert*. At the same time, we even have to educate our docs sometimes and will have to give them a “stay in your lane” talk every so often. But we absolutely respect the others education and expertise and I would never be in a situation where I was trying to “splain” something to one of the medical experts I was working with.

        *Not to say you shouldn’t question medical personnel because you absolutely SHOULD, I’m only talking in the context of “splaining” something to an expert.

    4. RUKiddingMe

      “Dude, stay in your lane. You are not the expert. You are not in charge. Knock it off.”

  5. JokeyJules

    …. do we work with the same person?

    We don’t, but I have no doubt this kind of person works at most places and attends most classes (in my undergrad anyway, I swear we had one in every class).

    Anyway, yes, on the behalf of everyone else who will work with him in the future, THANK YOU for having this very clear conversation with him.

    I understand what people who do this are trying to do, and it has the opposite effect for me. A confident, knowledgeable person lets others state the facts and share the knowledge, and doesn’t need to insert themselves in. Someone who needs to “add” “input” comes off as arrogant but insecure, which in a way cancels out their knowledge.

    1. Anonybus

      There must be a large number of undergraduates (especially undergrad boys, in my experience) who have read the same manual.

      No, lab partner who suddenly started talking to me as if you were my manager/coach after I outscored you on a test, I am not impressed.

    2. Samwise

      It *is* hard to know when something is helpful and when it is….obnoxious. Especially when you’re new at job. You need to listen, but you don’t want to disappear. I think often people are so focused on the “don’t want to disappear” that they forget about listening.

    3. Anastasia Beaverhousen

      Hahaha… I went to school with a guy who mansplained female orgasms to me and a friend. (Myself and said friend are both women – he overheard us making a *naughty* joke and decided to ~correct~ us.) I can’t imagine what his logic there was.

      1. froodle

        Omfg! Did we go to the same school? There was a guy at my college who insisted that the clitoris was located at the back of the knee, and then argued the point with my female friend and I. To this day we’ll laugh about him over a glass of wine, and it was almost twenty years ago now.

        1. Jaz

          He tried to tell grown women where to find a clitoris? I assume this means his best move in the bedroom is to rub a woman’s leg and try to argue her to climax…

        2. Tiny Soprano

          He must be thinking of the wenis? Except then he’s still wrong because that’s the back of one’s elbow (not to mention it is present in people of all genders…)

  6. Justin

    Oh man. My colleague just doodles in meetings and then says his uninformed thoughts.

    (Note: you can absolutely doodle and pay attention, but he isn’t.)

    Please tell him, marshal all forces to support you if needed.

  7. InfoSec SemiPro

    Everyone he ever works with will thank you if you can help him get this tendency handled NOW.

    Beyond the service to society of shutting this down, other people in the office seeing that you have it handled, seeing that the norms of respect are going to be enforced here, is really really good and healthy.

    1. Anoncorporate

      I second this point. Managing the way one employee treats their colleagues is part of your job as manager. In other words, don’t let a shitty employee treat your other employees badly. It undermines their work environment and can cause good employees to leave.

    2. Dust Bunny

      Yeah, this. A manager failing to address a tool like this is at least as bad as the tool him/herself.

  8. MuseumChick

    Ah, yea. I’ve worked with this type before! Is he young? My experience is this kind of behavior is most common among people ages 21 – 24 (from my experience this behavior also skews a bit more male than female). They have their shiny new college degree and maybe have worked one place and done an internship somewhere. And they know everything!

    Alison’s advice is spot on. You’d be doing him a huge favor by have a frank direct discussion with him.

    1. CoffeeLover

      Omg… just realized I work with one of those. You described him perfectly. Couldn’t quite put my finger on what was annoying about him (he’s a lot more subtle than OPs guy – but cringe-worthy nonetheless).

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I agree. Either this comes from a very precious kind of naïveté, or it’s a manifestation of insecurity where the offender thinks they’re asserting their capability by being a total blowhole.

      It’s totally worth having the conversation with him, and all of his future colleagues will thank you for it. In my experience, folks with this particular problem don’t grow out of it without correction or a moment of deep public humiliation (and even then, the humiliation has to hit when they’re young). It would be a great service to offer him the opportunity of correction.

      1. Anon4This

        They don’t necessarily grow out of it. My husband (in his forties) still has this problem! I correct him every time he does it to me, but I can only imagine the poor other people of the world he inflicts it on when I am not around, (SMH).
        It would be a huge favor to this guy if OP has a direct conversation with him about how this comes across to others. I’d be prepared for him to double down though; the people who do this are typically naive enough not the believe the feedback they receive about it. Often I’ve seen them just move on to greener pastures where they can continue as they please. Case in point, my husband who now runs his own business and is thus free from any constructive feedback conversations on this issue from a work perspective.

        1. AnotherAlison

          My husband (father of the 14 y.o. mansplainer mentioned below) also does this, but I might be his main victim. He’s a solo contractor, so he is the expert and supposed to explain things to his customers most of the time.

          At home, he mostly stays in his lane, and he knows a lot more about home maintenance and car maintenance than me, so that’s fine. I ignore him on politics and just say “mmmhmm” and nod. He drives me nuts on fitness topics. His feet hurt, and I say, “Maybe you should replace the running shoes you bought in 2010.” 6 months later, bought new running shoes and freaking invented running shoes. He has a pain in his “hip” (actually his glute) and I explain that he should roll it out with a lacrosse ball. Asks two other people who also suggest using a lacrosse ball and proceeds to inform me on all this new information that I obviously already knew because I told him first. And podcasts. He found podcasts in 2019 that I’ve listened to for YEARS, and he’s like, “You should really check out Joe Rogan. . .” This newfangled podcast thing is just the bees knees.

            1. AnotherAlison

              He drops “knowledge”, and I buy chips and candy when he’s on a diet. It works out.

          1. LaDeeDa

            My husband was/is a mansplainer- he once explained to me in great detail bras, bra fit, construction, and why the price was so inflated.
            He recently took a new sales consultant position, and it is so good for him- he gets to explain things and be the expert all the time to a captive audience, and it has really cut down on his need to be the expert on everything to me.

            I do own a shirt that says “Give me the confidence of a middle-aged white man” I have literally gotten up in the middle of a conversation (lecture?) and changed into that shirt and walked back in the room– HAHA!

              1. LaDeeDa

                It took him a while to notice, and then he tossed me on the couch and tickled me, and explained how that shirt was offensive to middle-aged white men. He is so lucky I love him ;)

              1. LaDeeDa

                Sometimes I wish I could wear it to meetings :) You can google the phrase and found a ton of products with the saying…

                1. Not A Morning Person

                  Coffee mug? Something you can see for yourself, or turn around when the situation requires it?

            1. Anon7

              Oh, boy, I want that shirt. I think it will pair nicely with the “No one cares about your fragile masculinity” slogan shirt I like to wear to the gym.

            2. Michaela Westen

              The price of bras aren’t inflated everywhere. I usually buy mine at Target and they’re less than $20.
              I used to buy them at TJ Maxx also until they moved to a shiny new building and tripled their prices.

        2. Hobbert

          My BFF had a baby a few years ago and her college age stepdaughter thought it would be cool to teach the little some baby sign. Sure, sounds great! Until I happened to be visiting one day and she was explaining what the baby was signing… I’m in sign language interpreter school. Facepalm. She knows this. She’s now an elementary school teacher so she can tell people what to do to her little heart’s content :)

        3. WeirdButTrueFoodHabits

          I used to work with someone who would correct my pronunciation of the names of people whom I knew and he didn’t. This fellow was in his forties.

          1. Berit

            I had someone correct me on the pronunciation of my own name. And, while it’s true that I have anglicized my foreign-sounding name, the pronunciation they were pushing is nothing like the original non-anglicized version either.

    3. NotAnotherManager!

      Ugh, we had one of these who left after 3 months because she didn’t like that the team lead told her she couldn’t train people. (Actually, had to tell her repeatedly because she kept doing it AND she was training people incorrectly.) It was a relief when she left because she was far more interested in telling others what to do than learning the right way herself – one of the more experienced people, who is the nicest person ever, was getting tired of being told her way (the actual right way) was “not very effective” from Know-It-All-Newbie’s perspective. And this is a team that’s very open to feedback! (It just needs to be based in some knowledge of what they do, and that typically takes more than 6 weeks to develop.)

    4. smoke tree

      Yeah, I think this is one of those “you don’t know what you don’t know” situations. The more knowledgeable you actually are, the less likely you are to be an insufferable know-it-all. If this guy is really early in his career, I’d start out by giving him the benefit of the doubt that he may just not understand office norms around this stuff. I think some people new to professional work get the impression that they need to weigh in on everything to seem engaged and intelligent, like they’re still in class.

    5. TootsNYC

      I remember having a job interview when I was just out of school, with a prestigious internship behind me, and saying, “Well, I believe I could do this job well, and I’ve done the same things at my internship and my student publication. Of course, I’m just out of college, so I probably have an inflated sense of my own ability, but I do think these are things I’m capable of.”

      She laughed.

      She called me to tell me I was her second choice.

    6. Jupiter2

      Where I work we say “they come a-knowin’”. This description fits 90% of our new-hires. And then we get hold of them…heh heh…

  9. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

    You definitely have to have a big picture conversation with him, least of all to CYA. Not sure how long he’s been there, but if you’re only responding in the moment, and have never have a one on one with him to explain what he’s doing wrong, it would be a big shock to him when it comes times to extend his working time with you if you let him go. Being direct is the key (because it’s clear he doesn’t respond to subtlety), along with “this is what will happen if you don’t improve”. You’ll be doing everyone a big favor.

  10. Juli G.

    I have to tell you that I’m having these exact same issues with my 7 year old (almost to the T but with different subjects) and your letter is reminding me why I have to work so hard to break him of this habit. It’s easy to think of it as an annoying thing when he’s a kid but if he doesn’t break it, it becomes way more impactful as an adult.

    1. AKchic

      I had a similar problem with my “Smart” son. The teachers didn’t help any by labeling him the Smart One in class and allowing him to interrupt them and give his (usually wrong) opinions and talk over them or his classmates. When he got to a male teacher, his male teacher ended up contacting me and asking me how to handle it. Never knowing that it had been a problem previously (because the female teachers had not only allowed it, but encouraged it, thus solidifying his ego and his lack of friends) I was blunt – shut him down every time, and call him out when he’s wrong.
      He’s 16 and he has learned how to both keep his opinions to himself when it’s not wanted or needed, and how to give his opinions or correct someone politely.

      1. BookishMiss

        I remember in great detail when it was explained to me that people don’t actually like having their speech (word choice, syntax, diction…) corrected and I needed to stop. 8yo me was flabbergasted. Current me is so very grateful for that conversation.
        Context: both parents are speech pathologists so discussing language and speech was really normal in my house, and of course I thought it was totally normal for everyone.

        1. ArtsNerd

          I had a lightbulb moment that being competitively ‘correct’ is not the way to go in 6th or 7th grade when someone asked me what grade I got on the math test (to see if their great score was better than mine or not). I know it didn’t come out of a vacuum but I can’t remember a specific conversation leading to my enlightenment. Maybe I finally picked up on the eye rolls when I made an obnoxious show of correcting the teachers when they made small errors.

          1. BookishMiss

            You are definitely not alone in those experiences adding up to being Not A Know It All.

          2. GreenDoor

            This is why I have my Smart One (age 5) in Montessori education – to specifically eliminate the competition. Otherwise he’d be forever “showing” the other kids how to do things, supervising their work, and rules-lawyering the hell out of his teachers.

            Friends, I’m trying really hard to break him of this know-it-allness, but it is HARD.

          3. Artemesia

            I was this student. I was so pleased that it wasn’t hereditary when my daughter told me her literature teacher corrected her pronunciation of W.E.B. DuBois from the correct ‘Du Boys’ which she said, to the incorrect ‘Du Bwah.’ I asked her what she did and she looked at me like I was nuts and said ‘let it go, of course.’ At least someone in the family has some sense. Alas the granddaughter skipped a generation and is like her grandmother — got to scrub ‘actually’ from her vocabulary.

    2. AnotherAlison

      I came here to make a similar comment. My 14-y.o. is on his learner’s permit and frequently tries to explain driving to me. Over the weekend, we got into a similar discussion about crunches (the exercise). I mean, go ahead, explain away on Fortnite, Apple products, airsoft, etc., but I am pretty sure my 27 years of driving and organized sports/training tops his experience in those areas.

      I do not hesitate to tell him to stop it and why this is bad know-it-all behavior. (I also don’t hesitate with men that I work with. Being a female in engineering management, I get plenty of opportunities.)

      1. wittyrepartee

        With exercise, it’s also like “whatever works for you”. Unless someone’s asking how to get ___ results from their workout or you’re their personal trainer, just let them do whatever they want to do.

        1. AnotherAlison

          That’s the truth. I really leave my expertise at my front door, but I can’t help debating with my teenager and his father. Our college-age kid actually has a lot of training knowledge and you can have an intelligent discussion with him.

      2. NotAnotherManager!

        My nine-year-old is turning into a backseat driver. I had to ask her yesterday how long I’d been driving (30+ years) and how long she’d been driving or taking drivers’ ed or anything. It’s part of a larger pattern of know-it-all-ness that I’m trying to work out of her before she becomes That Kid that no one wants on their team.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          My daughter went through this too. I knew I had my work cut out for me when I reminded her one day that nobody likes a know-it-all, and she replied with, “I know. “

          1. NotAnotherManager!

            Ha! Much better come back than mine had – I think I was told that, “If people were smart, they would realize [she was] right.”

            I love the kid, but she’s in this weird place where her IQ vastly outstrips her EQ and it shows. Hoping she grows out of it (soon!).

        2. Artemesia

          Actually (LOL) it is useful if YOU narrate your driving choices with her on board. Kids absorb a lot of good driving knowledge from having their know it all parent talk about their driving choices, looking two cars ahead, why you leave X amount of space, always yield on a left turn etc etc. So YOU rather than she should be the one talking through the driving.

      3. Pescadero

        Actually – as someone with a 16yo in drivers training….

        Fresh out of training drivers are horrible drivers due to lack of experience – but quite often know the actual rules of the road better than folks that have been driving a long time.

        … and don’t get me started on roundabouts. Every single person in my area who can’t figure them out is over the age of 50.

        1. Bored but not Boring

          Tsk tsk, no ageism please. Did you do a survey or something? I see a lot of people who look younger than me, who can’t figure out a four-way stop.

      4. AKchic

        My 16 year old tried to tell me that I wouldn’t understand gaming. Because “it wasn’t around in your day”. I’m 35. I grew up on gaming in all of it’s iterations. Tabletop, old-school consoles (the originals, dammit), PCs, board games, card games, the works. Just because I don’t *play* doesn’t mean I don’t understand or have knowledge.
        I shut his wifi connection down and made him play on the NES for a week and schooled his butt on Mario. Suck it, teen.

      5. Cheesehead

        I’ve had two kiddos who have gone through drivers ed and I think it’s just a hazard of that particular point in teenagerhood that they will ALL be completely obnoxious and tell you every little thing that you are doing wrong. Man, when they go through drivers ed these little 15 year olds become such complete EXPERTS!!! (or so they think). I have one more and I’m dreading the time when he starts saying “was that a complete stop?” or “you’re only supposed to go 35 here”.

    3. Harper the Other One

      I am doing the same with my 10-year-old. So help me, I will not let him leave the house as an adult still “explaining” things or speaking for his sister.

      My favourite is when he starts to tell me all these “cool facts” about vintage video games. I generally reply, “Buddy, one of us in the room actually owned an NES and an Atari. Which one of us do you think it is??”

      1. Zombeyonce

        Oh god, that just brought back memories of 14-year old me trying to “introduce” my dad to Led Zeppelin…my dad who was a teenager in the 70s. So much cringe.

        1. RUKiddingMe

          My dad was into the Beatles, hard core. He was that age during the British Invasion. He watched their first US tv appearance on my first birhlthday (1964). He cried when John Lennon was kilked. I grew up knowing *everything* about them and it was many years before I could listen to them becsuse, “enough already Dad!”

          Fast forward a coupke decades and my 16/17 year old son and his best friend discovered them and insisted on 1) me listening to the music and 3) educating me… okie dokie.

          Oh also, Son was the spitting image of my dad. I had to take a long nap..like a week long.

    4. LizM

      My four year son “Um, actually’ed” the other day about a topic that I’ve spoken at national conferences about. My husband and I were laughing too hard to correct him in the moment, but he’s a pretty precocious preschooler, it’s going to be something I can see us addressing in the next few years.

  11. Granny K

    In my head I’m trying to rework the lyrics to ‘Baby Driver’ with baby mansplainer, but I really should be working at the moment…so maybe later.

    1. Free Meerkats

      “Baby Mansplainer” scans well with The Beatles “Paperback Writer.”

      Just sayin’.

      1. Mookie

        Dear Sir or Sir, you WILL read my book, it took no time to write it, you don’t need to look.

        1. MsM

          “Dear Madam, I read this awesome book. The author shares your name; you should take a look.”

          1. Snazzy Hat

            I have never heard the song “Paperback Writer”, but holy crow that made me cackle!

          2. Jules the 3rd

            Perfect rhythm for the song – awesome.

            It’s based on a topic that I know so well, it’s not my job but I wanna be a baby mansplainer.

    2. fposte

      I do “Mansplainer” to the tune of Hall and Oates’ “Maneater.” “Oh, here he comes–he’s a mansplainer.”

      1. LKW

        Thank you for the ear-worm. And by “thank you” I really mean something not nearly as polite.
        Gonna be humming this all day now…stupid Hall & Oates. Dagnabit!

        1. teclatrans

          I will never be the same again. I know my brain, and this will happen anytime I see or think the word “mansplainer.” (And my husband tends to be one…)

      2. SusanIvanova

        “He always knows that he’s right,
        He’ll tell you day and night,
        Nothing is new, he’s read it all before”

  12. Helena

    Yes, pull him up on it!

    “Are you seriously explaining what a Teapot is to a Teapoteering specialist?” (Incredulous laughter, ends conversation)

    “Bobbin, *I* sent that to *you*.” (Rolls eyes, ends conversation)

    It doesn’t matter if this seems rude, he is being obnoxiously rude himself and the quickest way for him to catch a clue is for him to feel some repercussions from that.

    1. LKW

      Humiliating him or making him the butt of jokes isn’t going to teach him how to respect others. I’d be more direct as in “Yes, Briana is the resident Teapot Specialist, which is why she’s in charge of this specific thing and we rely on that expertise.”

      1. Oh So Anon

        True, but the ugly advantage of humiliation shows him that this affects how people perceive him. Sometimes people who do this are oblivious to the fact that what they are doing makes them unlikable full stop, and this sends the message home a bit more clearly than reminding him of roles and responsibilities.

        1. Name Required

          Humiliation only works when a person is self-aware, and it stops being the best choice when a person is self-aware. Being a jerk back to him is not a clear message about him, it just sends the message that you yourself are a jerk. An eye for an eye and all that jazz.

        2. LKW

          A manager sets the tone for the team; treat everyone with respect, and require everyone to do the same. While humiliation may work on that person for that specific moment, a “do as I say, not as I do” approach will likely have a more negative impact than gently coaching someone into understanding that a good team member acknowledges and respects the expertise of his team mates.

      2. Blue

        I agree that more subtly calling him out is the way to go. Something like, “I’m glad you found the resource useful. That’s what I was hoping for when I sent it to you last week” or “That’s what I was aiming for when I created it.” (That said, if politely redirecting him for awhile yields no results, I would not blame people for going with the eye-rolling route.)

      3. Zona the Great

        While I agree with the not being mean or nasty but I feel like this guy won’t get why you just stated a fact at him about Briana. I like it very much but would follow it up with, “so please don’t insult Briana or embarrass yourself by explaining her job to her or us”.

        1. Samwise

          In the moment, politely call it out or redirect it. Right at the end of the meeting/conversation/session, call him over — Bobbins, hang out a minute/come over to my office for a minute, I need to talk with you about something. Everyone who hears that will know what’s up. Then you can address it directly and one-on-one, in a setting that will not embarrass him.

          Embarrassing people is generally not an effective way to go. It’s unlikely to give the desired result and it makes one look bad. I would have real reservations about a manager who embarrassed a co-worker — I would think hard about trusting that person about sharing ideas or info in public settings; I’m also going to question if the problem is really Bobbins.

        2. Massmatt

          I agree, the main trait people like this have in common is lack of self-awareness and disregard for people’s non-verbal cues. They either don’t notice people rolling their eyes, etc, or just don’t care, because OF COURSE I AM BRILLIANT!!!

          Subtlety is not likely to work, or even be noticed, by such bobbins, you need to be clear. I am skeptical that an adult can really be trained out of this but it would have to start with a meeting as Alison suggested. And then noting the behavior as it happens, and if necessary doing a follow-up meeting.

          Sadly we have all worked with people like this, often they become managers and bosses, and at that point it’s 10x more difficult to deal with. Hopefully OP can get this employee to reform before his behavior becomes a lifelong trait.

          1. New Jack Karyn

            I think people can be trained out of it. They just have to experience consequences for the behavior, which many of them have not yet had happen to them.

            1. Oh So Anon

              It becomes trickier when the person prioritizes “integrity” or “rigor” over being agreeable. Someone who feels as though it’s their duty to adjudicate everything so that it’s as correct as it can be may not be all that concerned about the effect that has on their work relationships.

              If you’re a very task-focused person who doesn’t give a whiff about being likable, and you can stay employed while behaving this way, where’s the incentive to change?

      4. Quackeen

        Yes, thank you! While I completely understand the desire to hit rude behavior with more rude behavior, the likely effect is that he’ll think, “God, what a jerk who does not recognize my superior knowledge” rather than, “Ooops, maybe they have a point.”

        I’m also firmly in the “praise in public; criticize in private” camp. Let’s start out by assuming no ill intent until he proves otherwise (and he well may!). Looking at examples that commenters have given of their husbands and/or sons, it’s possible that he just hasn’t been challenged on this behavior in a direct and effective way yet.

        1. LKW

          Exactly. If you publicly ridicule anyone, it sends a message to the whole team that this is acceptable behavior. That opens up a door for people to treat one another horribly or just focus all ire on one target (think Larry/Jerry from Parks and Rec). It sets a tone for the whole group that quickly turns toxic. Best not to ever let it go there.

      5. Ralph Wiggum

        “Humiliating him or making him the butt of jokes isn’t going to teach him how to respect others.”

        +1

      6. MusicWithRocksInIt

        Honestly, with a certain type of Mr. Collins oblivious white male, I’ve found that making them the butt of *lighthearted* jokes, or ribbing (especially by other males) to be SUPER effective. It’s how the guys I work with got Captain Cologne to stop re-applying ten times a day, and the guy who constantly borrows stuff and never brings it back to stop asking me for things. Maybe it won’t get them to respect people, but it can stop bad behavior. The last thing they want is to look ridiculous.

      7. Seeking Second Childhood

        Someone telling him “I sent that to you” is not a humiliation but a correction. Just drop the eye roll.
        Maybe add “is there anything you need to ask about it?”

  13. Fergus

    I have learned the only way to deal with this behavior, and some would say it is harsh, but his behavior won’t change, is fire his dumb ass.

    1. Grand Mouse

      But definitely tell him why, because a lot of people like that come away from a firing with the idea that others couldn’t handle their genius, are jealous etc

      1. Fergus

        She might try but I bet the update was that the reasons she had to terminate him fell on deaf ears.

        1. Hills to Die on

          That guy. There is a reason (ok, many reasons) why Alison has a blog and I do not. Her response was so much more compassionate than anything I would have written. I hope he’s somewhere totally embarassed at his ‘Idea Man’ thing and tucked into an office with his mouth shut learning stuff.

        2. Workerbee

          Ideas Man! That was a great/wincey read. Bless.

          We had one here; he couldn’t understand that his value would have increased had he stopped saying “Someone should [do this great idea I the Idea Man just thought up]” and instead said “I will do it.”

      2. snowglobe

        Yes, tell him why, but odds are he will *still* think that the real reason is that everyone is jealous of his genius.

        1. FaintlyMacabre

          Yup. If I have learned one thing from the difficult people in my life (who all have been fired from at least one job because of their, to put it delicately, jackassery), is that there is always another way that they will spin it.

      3. emmelemm

        Oh, absolutely, the “you can’t handle my genius” guy. Have met him many times.

        1. Artemesia

          Had a Freshman student like this one time whose FATHER came to the fall parent thing and lectured faculty at a reception about how we could learn a lot from Bobbins and should be paying attention to his insights and taking his advice. At least we knew where it came from. He was a smart kid, but not more knowledge than a gaggle of PhDs in the subjects under discussion.

      4. Samwise

        Especially for people who are new to working, or new to a particular office or employer. Who here has not done stupid stuff, especially when they were young?

        In practical terms, it’s to one’s own benefit to help newbies understand things like this. Otherwise you’ll be firing a lot of people and investing a lot of resources in hiring and training new people.

      5. Lobsterman

        The best thing about firing someone with personality issues is never caring about what they want ever again.

  14. Tuppence

    My sympathies OP. I’ve worked with type, although not quite as bad. I agree that addressing the behavior directly and transparently is necessary, but I wonder what our expectations should be once you do. I feel like the hope is that he will realize that this behavior is problematic, feel appropriately embarrassed, and make put real thought and effort towards being better in the future. However, it’s almost easier to imagine him taking this feedback badly – feeling that no one sees his superior value, nursing grievances, and (worse of all) actively undermining you in the future. I probably feel this way because the OP didn’t ascribe any redeeming qualities to this person (like, “He tries really hard, but….” or “We all like him as a person, but….”). I don’t think the OP needs to feel bad about any “selfishness” about wanting to terminate him. Behavior like this poisons the whole well.

  15. Mookie

    That “actually” thing makes me so stabby. I am amazed with people who do it without intending to sound obnoxious, because the instances in which it’s appropriate (happily clarifying you support someone else who was unhappily anticipating disagreement, I guess) are so rare. No one was waiting with bated breath for your lordly, generous approval, guy. I think when it manifests as a tic, it’s an expression of purest insecurity coupled with discomfort in having to regularly cede intellectual ground to authority figures you resent, and perhaps fear but don’t respect: “Listen up, everybody! I, too, think this thing independent of anything you might say, and I thought it first! Hark at this clever boy who needs no guidance!”

    1. fposte

      The problem with “actually” is that it’s also got legitimate use–note how many of Alison’s scripts contain it. The challenge is deploying it strategically (I still over-“actually” myself).

      1. hermit crab

        I find this to be such a fascinating linguistic issue. I used to play a musical instrument and had an ensemble director in college who was the master of the “weaponized actually” (after one concert, he told me with a very genuine expression that he was “actually pleased” with my performance). There’s such a fine line between the word being a total non-issue and an ultimate power play, and intention often has little to do with how it comes across.

          1. tra la la

            Seemingly-weaponized “actually” totally meant as a compliment: I work in a field known for suuuuuuuuuper dry publications. My internship supervisor, after reading an article I’d just published, said delightedly, “It was actually almost interesting!!!!!”

    2. Old Biddy

      I also get stabby about ‘actually’. I know it’s a filler word and/or verbal tic, but it needs to die. If women get shit for saying ‘like’ too often or engaging in upspeak, all the ‘well actually’ folks can go shove it too. I’d much rather hear ‘like’, ‘um’, verbal fry or upspeak.
      My friend’s son went through a phrase where he said ‘actually’ before most sentences, especially when he was trying to interupt other people speaking. He was 4 and had probably picked it up from his dad or men on TV, but it was kind of apalling to see a 4 year old sounding likea manspaining sealioner.

      1. LaDeeDa

        When I hear “Well, actually…” it takes all my will-power not to junk punch the person.

      2. Hills to Die on

        My daughter was a big ‘actually’ person when she was in preschool. I thought it was cute. She outgrew it by herself.

      3. Guacamole Bob

        When I think about it more carefully, “actually” has a linguistic role in highlighting that the thing you’re saying may contradict what the listener is expecting:

        Me: I thought about trying X but I was concerned about Y.
        Other person: No, actually, I think X is a good idea. Y isn’t an issue in this case because of Z.

        If it’s said as part of a collaborative back-and-forth discussion, it’s a useful word. It’s when someone chimes in and uses it to correct people that it starts to get really grating.

    3. Drew

      I have been working to train myself to stop whenever I type or say the word “Actually” and ask whether it adds anything to the sentence. Almost every time, the answer is, “Not a thing,” and I can delete it happily. It’s also making me aware of how often I reach for that word, which is embarrassingly often.

      1. Blue

        I also try to edit it out of my own language as much as possible. I agree with fposte that there are legitimate reasons for using it, but even in those cases I will look for an alternative way to say the same thing, simply because the word’s been so tainted at this point.

        1. fposte

          Yeah, that’s where I am. I started working on that when posting here, in fact. Could I delete all the actuallys and have this read just as well? Then delete ’em.

    4. HannahS

      I feel similarly about “technically.” I’ve now gotten into two long arguments with the same visiting non-Canadian guy (six months apart!) who was criticizing our legislative process who kept on with the “Yeah but TECHNICALLY–” and, “fine, in practice, I guess that’s how things work but TECHNICALLY” and I was about ready to scream, “IT’S NOT MY FAULT THAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND COMMON LAW.”

  16. Batgirl

    We’re trying to get my young nephew to stop doing this (in imitation of his father, the Guru of All He Surveys) and my SiL said to him “Well Wakeen, I suppose if I told you I’d been on holiday to Tenerife, you’d say you’d been to Elevenerife”.

    In a non professional situation you can have fun with Gurus by asking them increasingly difficult questions until they cry uncle; but yeah, as his mentor, just tell the guy.

    1. irene adler

      I like the “asking of increasingly difficult questions” strategy.
      My boss is one of these. When the questions get difficult for him, he answers, “Maybe. Maybe so.”

    2. Sandy

      No doubt proving Alison’s dictum that life is a weird and fascinating tapestry, I used to do that.

      You know what cured me? No joke— that terrible reality TV show Wife Swap. Listening to a version of myself Elevenerife for an hour was enough to make me stop cold turkey.

    3. Flash Bristow

      oh gosh, the sort of person who if you’ve got a headache, they’ve got a brain tumour?

      Argh, they need to learn they don’t have to be one step up… it’s better to be an expert in one area and have people come to them for that, than to be a would-be, uninformed person who is desparate to be a point ahead.

      I don’t know how you can teach them that other than being blatant.

      Maybe “really? I don’t think you know as much as Fred on this! But that’s OK because I know you’re keen on bananas, so maybe you can go study bananas more then tell us all about them!”

      But I’m not sure that’ll work with a grown up colleague.

  17. That Girl From Quinn's House.

    Oh, I’ve worked with this type so often. Always men, always ones who have no subject area knowledge in my field.

    Me: We are struggling to find qualified llama jockeys, all of the prospective jockeys I’ve interviewed have been unable to put the saddle on correctly and trot the llama around the ring. I am going to need 20 jockeys when youth camp starts, and right now I have two. What should I do if this trend continues?
    Boss: One time when I was a kid, I went to a petting zoo. And there was a llama. And the llama was so big, I was afraid to pet him. But my mom encouraged me to, and I did! And the llama even ate some llama feed out of my hand! So what I’m saying is, if I could pet the llama, then you can find enough jockeys!

    1. Helena

      “So you’re saying we need to hire your mom? Great, does she have availability for next month?”

    2. Me

      I apparently work for your boss now.

      Boss: I want the website to do this thing that does nothing but add an extra step.
      Me: Best practice is to not add that step because it does nothing and creates work for the user.
      Boss: My way. me me me me me.
      Me: Please trust me on this. I have a lot of years of experience doing this work.
      Boss: Well I have a lot of experience LOOKING at websites.

      True story. I’m sure it’s shocking I’m looking for other employment.

      Trust your experts; shut down those speaking out of turn. You will lose good employees because of this.

  18. Hey Karma, Over here.

    Remember way back in archives, someone wrote about how she and another woman started at the same time but her coworker finished the day by thanking OP for her work that day? And things like, boss would assign work and coworker would restate it so it sounded like she was delegating. A short while later coworker had mind-effed herself into a promotion…
    So, done properly (for example, David Spade in The Conehead movie) one can become indispensable. Done artlessly, (Ed Helms) one can still be successful (until shooting oneself in the foot.)
    Ultimately, you need to shut it down by specifically calling out how inappropriate it is to speak over people and how important it is to listen to people.
    Then stop talking and let him talk himself out, and reply, “yes, like that.”

    1. TardyTardis

      Reminds me of Sweetly Annoying Co-worker who was hired after me and thought she was my supervisor. Why my actual supervisor put up with it, I do not know–it took Grandboss to shut it down.

  19. Tessa Ryan

    He sound like the sort of person who talks a lot because he loves the sound of his own voice.

  20. BadWolf

    As a reforming over eager explainer and “Oh, I can guess how this pans out” interrupter — this behavior can be (and should be) curbed.

    In my case, upon some self reflection, I want to appear clever and I want to share information. Sharing information is generally good, but can go wrong like Pt 3 so you need to share appropriately. The wanting to appear clever is one of those things that the harder you try, the worse it actually is (you look like a jerk, not clever).

    I say this because sometimes people have been blunt with me and oh boy does it burn, but it was necessary. Things that people have said to me that, like Alison’s examples sound harsh, but were appropriate in context:

    Similar times to Pt 1 and P3
    “Argh, you stole my thunder”
    “I’m not finished yet.”
    “Can I finish?”
    “Let me finish.”

    However, I would not suggest what my Ex would sometimes say which was “Would you stop talking, woman!” in a frustrated tone. Definitely don’t use that one.

    1. Psyche

      I have had to curb that tendency in myself as well. I have found that it helps when I remind myself that they likely have context I am lacking. Things go much better when I ask questions rather than make suggestions.

    2. Former Expat

      Thank you for sharing what worked for you as the over-explainer! I’ve been the OP so many times in my life and the behavior just baffles me. It is really helpful to know that there are people out there who have responded to feedback and changed.

      FWIW, I have plenty of flaws myself, its just this one that I really don’t understand and have trouble responding to

  21. ThursdaysGeek

    Oh hey, I worked with this guy years ago, only in my case it was my boss. :(

    I remember him asking me to explain a concept to him, which I did in a few minutes. Then I had to waste the next 30-40 minutes listening to him explain the exact same concept back to me. (He was also described by another co-worker as ‘having diarrhea of the mouth.’)

    1. Argh!

      Being new to CurrentJob but with years of experience doing basically the same thing, with the same software, I had to live with patronizing explanations from everyone for about a year and just grit my teeth. Some people just seem to feel that anyone they just met was born yesterday.

    2. Free Meerkats

      Retired Boss was a verbal learner and processor. For him to learn something from me as an SME, I would explain it and he would explain what he understood back to me. Corrections would follow the same arc. There were times when it was annoying, but once I recognized that was his way of internalizing and processing, it helped.

    3. Jersey's mom

      Oh my god, your boss is now my boss. He’s a teapot engineer, I’m a llama veterinarian. He knows nothing about llamas, but constantly spews all his llama knowledge at me. Of course, this is all the llama info I’ve provided him over the years.

      And now he’s insisting that I relocate to an office an hour away so I can “work with the team, because it’s important that I physically be part of the team”.

      Well, first, it’s HIS teapot team that I rarely work with and second, this is 2019 and we have stuff like cell phones, skype, screen sharing…

      I can’t wait until he retires…..

  22. Aspiring Chicken Lady

    Oh… but my BOSS does this. So painful. And ‘splains everything in long paragraphs that repeat and repeat from one day to the next, like he’s practicing his sermons for Sunday.

    I go to him for only the most specific of questions … and either I get a sermon on a subject which is at best tangential, or he slips out of answering altogether by telling me someone else I should ask.

    Am currently compiling a list of “please, God, don’t let me do this” behaviors in anticipation of a possible promotion to his role at another office.

  23. Like a chicken but bigger

    I see you’re working with a guy I dated during college! I kid, I kid. In that case he didn’t stop even when I used similar wording to what Allison advises. He would either ignore it or get offended.

  24. Claire

    Since the OP has tried dealing with Bobbin’s behavior in the moment, I’d go straight for the big picture talk. This lets Bobbin know that his behavior is a pattern, not a couple on-offs, and that he needs to correct it. Then you can follow up any further incidents in the moment with, “Hey, Bobbin, remember our talk last week?”

  25. LaDeeDa

    This is so irritating… I have had repeated conversations with one of my older male direct reports about it. I have told him that often in meetings he is repeating what I or one of the other women have just said (he never repeats what the men say), he will be asked a question and he will, with great authority, talk about things he knows nothing about, and people believe him… he sounds legit. I have spoken to him about it and asked him not to do it. At this point, I have limited his exposure to only the most junior employees and junior managers, and only on topics I am confident in his knowledge level.

    1. Armchair Expert

      What does he say when you call him on it? I always wonder with these guys. I assume it’s largely unconscious behaviour, but you’d think that after a few Serious Chats with the boss they’d become more careful.

  26. the_scientist

    Good Lord, this sounds irritating. I think it’s time to start addressing the pattern- sounds like you’ve tried shutting it down in the moment, but he has either not gotten the hint, or is dodging the hint so hard he’s tripping over his own feet. Address the ongoing pattern of behaviour ASAP, but also continue to bring him up short in the moment. That part is important because it lets others on the team know that you see and are addressing his irritating behaviour. If it appears that you’re letting it slide, good employees are going to start moving on because this is about as annoying as a coworker can possibly get. I’ll take 10 fish microwavers over this dude any day of the week!

  27. Armchair Analyst

    This.
    When I was younger and more subordinate, a middle-manager told me to stop this.
    Why is this even a question?? Could it be…. because here the problem is a man????

  28. Sarah Gundle

    I know you can’t actually send this to him, but today’s Walter Geoffrey the Frenchie IG post is perfect for this issue. #actyourwage

  29. Sarah M

    Grrr. I had This Guy in my Fed Tax class in law school. It was an Intro level class. He was a CPA, and loooved hogging up class time asking the most abstruse questions so he could display his extensive knowledge of the subject to the rest of us drooling rubes. We were supposed to be awestruck at his mind blowing awesomeness. In reality, we joked about killing him. I still hate That Guy.

    1. Snazzy Hat

      I dropped out of majoring in Philosophy because I didn’t understand the questions some of my classmates were asking my professors. I realized that if I couldn’t understand the questions, I couldn’t possibly understand the discussion or the answers, so I had no place in those classes.

      1. Sarah M

        Is was an introductory level class. The whole point was to teach noobs the basics of Fed Tax, not to provide Dude With Extensive Knowledge a platform to waste my very expensive class time. The school did not allow CPAs to take Accounting For Lawyers, for obvious reasons. It should have held a separate Fed Tax class for CPAs, for the same obvious reasons. But I love that you managed to insult my intelligence, and that of the Entire Rest of That Class, by suggesting that we were too stupid to be there.

    2. Anonymeece

      Mine was a young woman, philosophy undergrad. To this day, I cringe when I think of some of the “questions” she would ask that were solely to reveal how ~smart~ she was. Same exact thing: we were supposed to be awestruck by her mind-blowing awesomeness.

      I really think this is a case of the same thing – the guy wants everyone to think he’s smart, but doesn’t realize how dumb it makes him look. Maybe in the big-picture talk, it might be helpful to frame how it comes across to people and how it’s okay to not know things. As someone said, “Better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”.

      1. AKchic

        I’ve used the (butchered) quote: “a wise man speaks when he has something worthwhile to contribute; a fool speaks to hear his own voice.”

    3. Middle Manager

      Yes! We have a person in our office who doesn’t ‘splain, but asks really ridiculous questions in large group meetings that are just utterly specific or about rare situations. Or asks questions that aren’t really questions, but more opportunities to show how much she knows about X. Or both. I know this person is trying to look smart and engaged and all, but she just comes off as obnoxious and lacking self-awareness.

      1. Free Meerkats

        “But what if it’s raining on a Tuesday and Mars is in retrograde, what do we do differently?”

        Yeah, we had one of those and it’s a running gag in the office.

      2. Ellex

        A prior boss who was usually pretty non-confrontational once put an end to 10+ minutes of stupidity from a new department supervisor who really, really shouldn’t have been in that position by saying, “This is accounting, not astrophysics. We’re not concerned about calculating out 10 places to the right of the decimal.”

        1. Michaela Westen

          Yes, knowing when to stop is important!
          Like the talk I had with my boss… he kept trying to find an exact measurement for something that can’t be exactly measured. We have to get our best approximation and use that.

    4. Anoncorporate

      I have a prestigious degree from a pretentious school, and my male classmates were like this. Something I don’t understand: why does it take 5 minutes long to ASK a question ??

    5. Elle

      My ‘That Guy’ eventually outed himself to all and sundry as a total arse when he asked our Professor of Roman Law (compulsory for certain parts of the legal profession in scotland) whether we couldn’t have our classes in Latin as it would be more appropriate (I guess us plebs from state schools were just meant to drop out, and therefore never sully the faculty of advocates?). Up until this point he had saved the majority of this behaviour for the younger women (he was a mature student). Notably he made this request, in English, on a class discussion board, rather than emailing the professor privately in Latin.

  30. Ariaflame

    Sounds like you have an ultracrepidarian there – one who speaks much on things they know little about

  31. Argh!

    Ahhhh gotta love the young’uns. I hope that at the same time the inexeperienced genius learns humility, their coworkers practice patience. They were probably once that person.

    1. IvyGirl

      It’s not only young people who do this. Very often, it’s the “olds” who no one ever corrected.

  32. Cathie from Canada

    When I worked in the Dean’s Office advising university students, I often saw this phenomenon: when I asked a student how they were doing in a class and they said “oh, I’m about a B+ in that” then they were usually actually an A or even A+; when the student said “oh, I’m about a C” then actually they were a D or even failing.
    The good student knew well what had already been covered in class and knew also that there was a lot more to learn — they underestimated their knowledge because they understood the magnitude of the course topic. The poorer student, on the other hand, didn’t have as good a grasp on the course topic, and they over-inflated their actual level of achievement because they didn’t yet understand as much about the topic as they thought they did. With true expertise comes humility.

  33. Ann Furthermore

    When I took macro-economics in college, I was a junior working on my accounting degree. There was a guy in my class who was a That Guy. He constantly used “price” and “cost” interchangeably, and did the same thing with “margin” and “income.” Infuriated me. One night in class I couldn’t take it anymore, and I finally snapped and said, “OMG. Those are NOT the same thing!” The professor chuckled and said, “She’s right. They’re not. You should learn your terminology. ”

    That was a lower division class and that guy was a complete know-it-all. I also had him in another upper division advanced class and he never made a peep.

  34. Temperance

    I had an intern like this. Gentle correction didn’t do anything, so I had to bluntly tell him to stop, that he was giving out incorrect information, and he was not to assign work to other people.

    Hilariously, he thought I was “out to get him”. I mean, he was partially correct, but not because I hate men or had a personal vendetta against him. I wanted him to act right, respect our colleagues, and not be a sexist tool.

  35. office bee

    Omg I had someone like this in my office. I have worked here for 30+ years, him for less than 2 and he would constantly try to tell me how to do my job. Rage doesn’t even begin to cut it. Also when I would try to tell him how things ran around the office, he would totally ignore everything I said. For one thing there are set protocols that have to be followed but for some reason he thought nothing pertained to him. The good thing is that when he realized that no one was going to listen to or follow him he moved on.

  36. Reba

    “bluntly tell him to stop” — I think this is missing from Alison’s scripts! “Get it under control” is IMO not firm enough. You can say, “you don’t have the information,” and the person can think, “well, actually, I do!” “This is harming your reputation” – “those people can’t match my great ideas” etc. etc.

    I think you could also describe replacement behaviors, what TO do as well as what NOT to do. So it’s A) don’t interrupt the trainer and don’t try to teach other trainees and B) listen in trainings, take notes on what the leader says, and ask only brief questions.

    1. Close Bracket

      > I think you could also describe replacement behaviors, what TO do as well as what NOT to do

      Yes, please. I have my own special issues in this area bc I am on the spectrum, but being told proper behavior as opposed to just NO is so much more useful.

  37. The Imperfect Hellebore

    I usually think that Alison gives great advice, but this is one of those times where I think it’s absolutely perfect. If I were you, OP, I would definitely have a big-picture conversation with this remarkable jerk, sooner rather than later. It’s really important to deal with his behaviour – partly for his own good, but mainly for the good of his colleagues. It sucks to have someone like that around, but it makes a huge difference if it’s clear and open that someone is on your side.

    Phrases like “thanks Joffrey, but Sansa’s the expert on jewellery, and we’re discussing jewellery at the moment. Could you leave us to it, please?” might be helpful. If he presses, something like “Please get on with your own work, Joffrey. This discussion doesn’t concern you.” That sounds a bit blunt to me, but I tend to use softer language in real life, and in this case you’re clearly dealing with a gold-plated ego.

  38. Lady Phoenix

    Oh god, mansplaining. The criiiiiinge.

    With stuff like this, you need to firmly tell him to be quiet and let the people who ARE skilled in the area do their job while he does HIS job.

  39. ENFP

    This hit a nerve with me. In my former job at Semi-Toxic Bank, I spent no small amount of time training our (very young and immature) admin assistant on how to use a fairly complex system. This led to her getting a promotion – still junior to me – but also led to an ego inflation that was not becoming to anyone trying to move up in a professional setting. She would “correct” me in meetings with alternate workarounds. If I had a dime for every time she started a sentence with “Actually…” – I could buy Out Branson. My point is that failure to correct this makes your team management look terrible. And it does this young man no favors. Have a direct talk and, if it happens again, use one of Allison’s pithy rebuttals. Good luck!

  40. Ellex

    I’m dealing with something like this. Newbie has been here less than a month and is an expert in a related field. I’ve been here a year and said expertise is, frankly, neither helpful nor strictly relevant. We’re near the beginning of the chain of progress, not the end, and there’s a lot of stuff we don’t touch on or deal with because that’s someone else’s job. But Newbie is having a hard time with this because they used to be the end of the line in their field. I understand that this kind of change can be difficult, but when Newbie asks a question, I answer it, and they tell me they’re going to do it differently because they think it’s better/more accurate/more thorough, despite my telling them that there are reasons we do things the way we do them…well, let’s just say Newbie is very close to being told that I won’t answer any more questions and they can go ask a supervisor, instead. Supervisor is already aware of the situation and on board, and Newbie’s work is being reviewed regularly. It’s nice being in a supportive workplace!

  41. Airy

    I have nothing practical to add but on an impractical note I wish we could siphon off the excess confidence from people like this and transfuse it into competent people with impostor syndrome.

    1. Camellia

      I think that this is not confidence, which comes from high self-esteem, but is instead arrogance, which comes from low self-esteem. And is done in an effort to bolster said low self-esteem.

  42. animaniactoo

    I might approach this from a different slant.

    He interrupted you to tell you he’d seen the decision and agreed with you? Why did he feel the need to do that? I mean ask him that.

    “Bobbin, why did you feel the need or think it was a good idea to interrupt me when I was explaining the Purple Moose legal basis for defense to Tabitha, to agree with what I was saying?”

    “Why did you think it was a good idea to e-mail IT and explain how to use the research resources? What were you trying to accomplish?”

    Yes, you’re signaling with this framing that you maybe don’t understand why he did it and that it might be “not good”. But it’s a good opening into getting him thinking about WHY he’s doing it, and being prepared for the idea that bad stuff may be coming.

    There’s a large bet here that he *thinks* he’s being helpful. Which would enable you to explain to him why these actions are not helpful, and are in fact detrimental to those around him and his reputation.

    If you’re his boss AND the direct report to whom you’re explaining this, it can be assumed that you know what you’re talking about when you explain something to another report. Therefore, reinforcing your correctness does nothing for that AND it means that he just interrupted – which is rude – for no reason.

    IT would be assumed to know how to use the research resources, but if he thinks there’s something missing telling them information that they are more likely to know rather than asking them if this is something they have experience with is going to come off as very left field and not in a good way. In this case, it really came off badly because he was instructing them on something they had just instructed him on. So clearly, not only did they know it – but they had every reason to think that THEY knew he knew it.

    If he thought their directions were unclear then the solution is to name the problem and then propose some suggested changes. That gives enough context to make clear why he is commenting on it at all. Naming the problem is going to be key in his ability to solve lots of things OR get other people to agree is a problem, so this is something he needs to have front and center as part of how he approaches anything that he thinks is problematic.

    The refresher course? Well if it’s a refresher, it’s assumed that there may be things he’s forgotten, OR information that may be updated since he took it the first time. So helping by quizzing the other students? Isn’t helping them and it’s not helping the instructor who may have to go back and correct information he’s given – or may have given without the background context that the instructor wants to have in place before teaching that piece.

    In every case, the underlying theory is that people have a right to not want to be helped by him. So when he rushes into it – rather than offering it or thinking about whether it substantially helps anything, he is undercutting the people he’s potentially trying to help. And make himself look like he has no idea where his thoughts and opinions lie in the context of various relationships.

    At that point, I would note that he is struggling in the areas that he is supposed to be achieving in – being aware of the [specific legal knowledge] and attention to detail. And that his focus on helping others or making them aware of his knowledge (because that’s another possibility that he may come up with – adjust above scripts to fit) is preventing him from helping himself by focusing on those areas within his own work.

    That making the depth of his knowledge known or helping others can be a good thing for an employee to do, particularly to position themselves as a strong employee – but they come WAYYYY after being locked down solid on their own work. They also come with limitations and a strong understanding of the boundaries of the relationships so that it is beneficial to do, rather than a drawback. So if he wants to be useful and seen as a good and strong employee, the way that he displays that to you is by being on top of his own work and excelling at that. Because the rest is not coming across the way that he wants it to – and particularly not in light of the issues with his own work.

    Then ask him to try to work on his impulse to help or display his knowledge – every time he feels that impulse, you want him to stop and first consider why it might be a bad idea rather than a good idea. Then if he still feels that the potential benefit outweighs the potential risk, you want him to frame it as a question, not as a statement.

    “Hey, I read that decision. Can I explain why I agree with what you’re saying?”

    “I’ve been using these resources. Do you have experience with them? If not, would it be useful for me to send you an explanation of how to use them?” (or alternately) “As someone who didn’t have any familiarity with these resources, I struggled with the instructions that were sent – in places it felt like they assumed knowledge I didn’t have, or they took the long way around to get to where I needed to be. Can I send some suggestions for updating them?”

    “Hey, I’m taking this as a refresher, so a lot of this is familiar to me. Would you like me to quiz you on some of the material to help memorize it?”

    It will also allow you to call it out in the moment in a different way “Bobbins, did you think that one through first?” “Bobbins, this is an instance of that pattern I discussed with you.”

    It’s possible that he’ll fight you on this, or dismiss you about it and it comes to nothing. But as a manager, you will have kept your side of the street clean by addressing it and attempting to help him correct it. Even better if it works and he manages to correct the behavior – and his work to boot.

    1. animaniactoo

      aherm. apologies for the wall of text – I usually try to at least break that up into two posts when I do that…

  43. Camellia

    PLEASE give us an update and let us know if your talk with him was successful, or if he just didn’t get it, or if he got it but refused to believe he was in the wrong.

  44. Rollergirl09

    I work with a woman like this. Sometimes I think she talks just for the sake of feeling like she’s contributing. I had been in a more senior role and left the company for a brief period. I returned to the company in a production role basically because it suited my needs and this woman had been promoted from another department during my time away. We were in a meeting and I corrected a misinterpretation of information that was being conveyed. She started arguing with me and gave me a whole lot of “well actually” and the entire room could barely conceal their giggles. I stood firm that I was pretty sure I was right, but that I’d double check. She finally said, “Why are you all laughing?” And someone replied, “Because she wrote the material we are talking about.”

    1. JessB

      This awesome! I love that your team spotted the oddness and said it straight out when she asked!

  45. nnn

    It would be amusing (although not very managerial) to stare at him in bafflement over why someone would even say those things, and respond with corresponding confusion.

    Bobbin: “I’ve actually seen that decision and actually agree with you!”
    You: “Um…that’s good? Because that’s unquestionably the objectively correct interpretation…”

    Bobbin: [explaining to support staff how to use the resources]
    Support staff: “Uh….I’m glad you’re following the instruction in the email we sent you?”

  46. Bobbin's supervisor

    Hi everyone, OP/letter writer here! I was out of pocket when this first posted but I wanted to say thank you to Alison and the whole commentariat for your thoughtful responses and especially for the advice on how to frame the big picture conversation. I find it can be difficult to discuss recurring issues with some employees, because certain types of people go straight to the “oh really? Name seventeen times I did that.”

    To answer some points – yes, I’m a woman and most of the people in our office and wider section are women. I’ve seen him do this to men but less frequently – you’re all right on the money. He and I have had many conversations about other aspects of his performance and potential consequences, but any realized consequences will surprise him if/when they land. That’s how he is, which is obviously part of the problem.

    Several people have said I owe it to the rest of our section to intervene, and you’re absolutely right. My own supervisor (his grand-boss) is reaaaaaally pushing back on taking any action here, but it’s clear he’s hurting our whole team.

    His pre-annual-review check in is next week. I’ll be addressing this directly. Thanks again and I’ll be continuing to read things as they come in!

    1. Artemesia

      I’d be worried that Grand boss is going to keep him on after his trial period — is he connected to his family or something like that? Being told not to manage an obnoxious newbie is not good.

    2. LQ

      Something that my very very hesitant to get rid of someone/not bring someone back boss (also gvt) does listen to sometimes is, “This role really requires good judgement (for security, law, etc) and by doing/saying this kind of thing he’s demonstrating that he has very questionable judgement. It requires an extra level of scrutiny on the rest of the judgement calls he’s making and that isn’t an acceptable burden.” Especially useful if he’s explaining it wrong at all.
      Especially if it’s something like legal judgement which if it gets called into question could have a cascading impact on other work and create a much larger problem for the organization. (I know he’s let lawyers go for this and I’m working on a case for a security guy and this is the tactic that’s seeming to get traction because if our entire system is built on poor judgement we create a level of risk that we can’t bear for the public.)

      Keep pushing your boss on this one! Good luck.

  47. Kella

    I had a coworker like this when I worked as a shelf stocker and cashier at a grocery store. I had been working there about 2.5 years (which is eons in retail time) and I was in charge of training him, as I did all new employees in that department. The first two weeks, he was fine, and then I guess he decided he knew all that there was to know about the job and he stopped listening to me. When I offered him suggestions on how to do a task differently that would be safer/more efficient, he said, “I’ve actually found that this way is better.” In your whole two weeks of work??? I then noticed that if I asked him to do something, he’d say something like, “yeah I’ll get around to it,” but if my male coworker who was not an authority figure and generally avoided talking to other people asked him to do something, he did it right away.

    The one that really pissed me off was when he was bagging for me as I rang up a customer. The customer asked me when our produce deliveries were. I think I said I wasn’t certain on which days, but they definitely received deliveries 2-3 times a week. The customer accepted my answer, and then my coworker jumped in to say, “Yeah, they usually deliver a few times a week,” as if he was confirming my information for me– information that he likely didn’t have to begin with. The customer seemed to recognize the weird dynamic so she just thanked both of us and left. The best part though was five minutes later, the customer returned and reported to me that he had bagged two large glass bottles of water on top of a frozen pie crust, and the pie crust was now broken. *head desk*

    1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems

      I’ve had that bagger too – only it was three gallons of milk on top of my bread and eggs.

      The cashier had helpfully written bagger’s name for the survey on the receipt, which I didn’t get too. But it did help Customer Service know who needed retrained (after replacing my bread and eggs that had been ruined).

  48. Someone Else

    This He has explained how to use certain research resources to our technical support staff — resources those exact staff members had sent to him, with instructions, weeks earlier. is a one-way ticket to convincing me I don’t want to work with the person who does it. Holy moly does this happen to me and it is an extremely efficient way to lose all my respect.
    Thanks for sending me my own presentation back, NewGuy.
    Bonus headshaking if you send me a link to a webinar you “found very helpful” and maybe I “should watch it too” and I am the primary speaker in that recording.

  49. Fergus

    My last job I had this 28 year old tell his co-worker how he wanted to make teapots. He would go into extreme detail about the making of teapots. The kicker was he never owned or made one teapot in his life. Well me sitting behind him heard the whole instruction manual on teapot making. Funny thing I know a lot about teapots because I own 5 teapots worth about 10,000 and know one of the makers of one of the teapots. I just laughed, what a dumb ass. OP you have a dumb ass working for you and he’s never going to change.

  50. Doctor Schmoctor

    I worked with someone like this. He would interrupt anybody and just talk the biggest load of crap, pretending he knows everything. I think he believed that if you are heard, people will take notice (in a good way). And of course our boss thought he was just awesome. Gumption. While those of us who keep calm and think before we respond (with the correct response), were treated like crap.

    Dude eventually calmed down a bit and became very good at the job.

  51. Jo

    This guy sounds annoying and either full of himself or just lacking in self awareness. Maybe he thinks he is being helpful, while not realising he is getting it totally wrong. When I read the bit about him asking students how they would handle scenarios in a training course, I initially read it as him delivering the course, but then realised he was undergoing training too! Someone needs to tell him to wind his neck in. OP, you will be doing everyone a favour by being that person.

  52. Shawn

    Also sounds like you may have yourself a “mansplainer”. You may want to print a few anonymous articles about how this is wrong in every way, and leave them at his desk.

  53. Golden Pear

    Oh dang, what’s it like to work with Jonah Ryan? https://gph.is/13Bs6UP
    Seriously though, I’d guess that this is some misplaced “fake it til you make it” advice come to life, especially if he’s young.

  54. Tom

    I knew someone that displayed this type of behavior (and other too).
    Turned out, this man is a narcissist – actually a perverse narcisist – who tried to explain how firewalls work to the head of IT security in an international bank. The security person was silent – and looking like ‘WTAF’ at the man – and I said ‘dude, you know what he does, right?’ – which made him pause and stop.
    Due to other reasons – i no longer am in contact with this person – but last i heard was that his behavior got worse.

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