[May 28, 2023] If you don’t have the answer, don’t pretend you do. Yes, I know; the most hated words someone can say is, “I don’t know.” But the shortest way to lose credibility is to claim you do know.
Nothing is more frustrating for someone pretending they know something when they do not. No one is expecting you to have all the answers. However, it seems to be in our human nature to resist admitting we don’t know something.
Why we habitually pretend they have answers when we don’t is something psychologists have studied for a long time. My thinking is that they do it because it’s comfortable. Simple, that’s right, they do it to be happy; just like much of what we do, it fits with our leadership style. Not knowing is chaos, and not knowing is enforced uncertainty.
This is also about having moral courage. You must get your act together early in your life. It takes courage for someone to take heat for not knowing something when you should. If faced with a problem, the only answer is to be honest and straightforward with that fact.
If you don’t have the answer, here are some tips:
- Recognize that there will be times you don’t have the answer.
- Don’t make assumptions about the problem. Go the extra mile to gather factual information.
- Be honest and admit you don’t know the answer.
- Be gracious about it. Remember that it’s your conduct, not your knowledge, that makes you a good person.
- Show follow-through by getting the answer. Complex problems will take time to get the answer, but it shows persistence.
You are not all-knowing, perfect, or faultless. This is called humility, and it is appreciated. Being frank and honest is always respectable and shows that you understand the frailty of being human.
Please read my books: