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  • Writer's pictureLeslie Nydick

Say You Don’t Know When You Don’t Know

It may seem obvious to say “I don’t know” when you don’t know, yet we often hesitate to say it. Why is that? Do we think our coworkers or managers will think less of us? Do we expect that we should know everything?


Place yourself in this scenario: when you ask a coworker about a specific issue, you receive a response. Then, you base your decision on that information. Later you learn that the employee did not actually know. I am sure we agree this would be very frustrating.


When you are asked about an unknown topic, remember that scenario. Your value is not just based on what you know, it is also determined by how you gather and sort through information. The latter can be worth more. Your willingness to keep on learning is more valuable than sticking with only what you already know. Give yourself permission to not know something…yet. My best teams were made up of people who weren’t experts in everything. They were willing and capable of gathering information and to get back to me when they did know.


TRY THIS: The next time you are asked something that you don’t know, say “I don’t know,” and then share how you plan to obtain that information.


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