“You never really learn much from hearing yourself speak,” said George Clooney. Do you have a friend or family member who would do well to take these words to heart?
There are few things that make my blood boil quite like ignorance and arrogance.
Whether it’s blatant rudeness, thinly veiled prejudice, or simply a failure to listen to someone who doesn’t agree with them, it can be very hard to take. Today, this closed-minded self-importance seems to be everywhere. Politics has a way of drawing it out.
Dealing with people like this is tricky. We don’t want to stoop to their level, but we also can’t sit by while they say things that offend our most treasured values. This becomes especially difficult when this attitude comes from a loved one. Unfortunately, there seems to be one in every family, office, and group of friends.
So what can you do about it?
Here are seven strategies for dealing with someone who is arrogant, ignorant, and overall too confident for their own good:
1. Have an honest conversation.
The next time this person says or does something that truly gets to you, let them know how you feel. You may be surprised by their capacity for change.
2. Don’t correct them if they are about to make a mistake.
You know they’ll only argue with you anyway. Allow them to mess up, and then enjoy watching them deal with the consequences. If you can hold back from commenting, this could be a great chance to teach grace by example.
3. Turn the tables.
Loudly express an opinion that you would normally hold back for the sake of their comfort. Tell your racist uncle exactly why you believe immigration is important. Bring a friend to dinner who you know they won’t approve of. Truly arrogant people are unlikely to change their point of view. However, they might learn a different lesson from their feelings of discomfort and offense.
4. Bring them around a group that puts them in over their head.
Place them in a situation with true experts who they will be unable to refute. This can provide a much needed dose of perspective and humility.
5. Stand your ground.
The next time you are arguing, refuse to back down and concede your point. Don’t accept a verdict of “agree to disagree.” Let them feel exactly how frustrating and exhausting it can be when they engage in this behavior.
6. Invite them to a situation in which they will need to ask for help.
Ask them to come along to your fitness class, study group, or music lesson. Experiencing an activity as a beginner will help their ego return to the right size.
If all else fails, limit your contact with this person as much as possible. You are not obligated to put up with arrogance and ignorance. You can choose to ignore it. As Criss Jami wrote, “Simply minding one’s own business is more offensive than being intrusive. Without ever saying a word one can make a person feel less-than.”
“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods,” wrote Edmund Burke.