Just Say ‘No’ If You Don’t Know

It’s interesting to watch and listen to people making up answers and pretending they know what they’re talking about when they are actually clueless. They won’t say “no, I don’t understand”, but rather try to fake it until they make it. A lack of confidence and the fear that others may think less of them will make people say yes or nod in agreement to things they know little or nothing about. Contrary to looking silly, when you admit that you don’t know, you demonstrate a confidence and willingness to learn. This does not apply to basic life skills or knowledge your parents or teachers taught you as a child. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things you should just know!

It is important to be honest about our lack of knowledge, skills and abilities and not let that throw us off track when we are uncertain of a specific detail or issue. Knowing where to find the answers and grow through this learning experience is the key. When you don’t have the chance to Google the topic, it is perfectly acceptable to say “I don’t know the answer to that, and I’m not familiar enough to hazard a guess.” It is also perfectly acceptable to say “I’m not entirely sure of an answer, but given my understanding of the topic, here are a few thoughts.” Or what about saying “I don’t know what you are talking about. Could you please explain that to me? It sounds fascinating.” The last response will provide the other person with an opportunity to educate you on a topic or area of knowledge that may be of great benefit. I do this with the engineers, scientists, architects and other very bright and talented people I coach. I’ve never had anyone look down on me for my lack of knowledge. If anything, it has provided a wonderful learning opportunity for me. I find they actually are very happy to teach me and demonstrate how intelligent and capable they are at relating to the topic being discussed.

How about you? Are you standing in the way of your own growth and learning? It’s perfectly acceptable to say you don’t know. It’s the first step towards further growth and development.

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