Home News Why is it important to learn to say “I don’t know”

Why is it important to learn to say “I don’t know”


The desire to look better than it really is is characteristic of weak, insecure people who want to receive positive feedback for every action they take. Why admitting your incompetence can help you a lot? Let’s talk with the experts.

To honestly admit that he does not know something can only be a strong person who does not depend on the opinions of others.

With age and life experience, you begin to understand this and strive to be self-sufficient. It’s important to accept that you can’t know everything about everything. Then it is easy to live, because you stop worrying about your incompetence in a variety of human and universal problems. At the same time, you feel calm and confident, doing only what interests you personally, and not those around you.

We talked about how to stop doubting yourself and deal with the “impostor syndrome” in our material.

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Why is it important to say “I don’t know”?

Most problems in adult life come from childhood. We were all scolded at school for answering “I don’t know.” But despite the widespread myth that lack of competence in any subject will show you from the negative side, it is important to be honest about your ignorance.

First, it shows you as a strong person who takes responsibility for what you say. There are so many empty promises and unjustified statements in the world that it makes no sense to produce them. Say only what you are really sure of.

Secondly, by answering the question “I don’t know”, you save your time and the time of your interlocutor. Time is the most valuable resource that must be used wisely. There is nothing shameful in not knowing if you are ready to expand your area of ​​​​competence or refer your interlocutor to someone who can really help him.

Thirdly, the uncertainty in your voice when you answer will be read by the interlocutor, and you will be caught in a lie, which is much worse than not knowing. Having lied once, you can once and for all lose your interlocutor, colleague, employer, customer. If you work in a field where everyone knows each other, you will ruin your business reputation.

You can read about how to act in a stressful situation in our material.

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In the age of high-speed Internet, your words are easy to verify. If you are uncomfortable admitting your own incompetence, I advise you to replace the wording “I don’t know” with a more streamlined one. For example, “I’m not ready to answer you right now. I need some time, I will clarify your question and come back with an answer in…”. So you won’t utter a phrase that is uncomfortable for you, but you won’t deceive your interlocutor, pretty spoiling your reputation.

Nataliya: I usually answer that “I don’t know yet”, because you can always look for the answer to any question from experts or just “google”. But I do this only if the problem really needs to be solved or I’m just curious. In unimportant and uninteresting cases, you should not load the brain with unnecessary information so as not to go crazy with possible negative emotions.

By reporting your ignorance of any fact, you can get help in finding the right information from your boss, colleagues, partners, friends. People like to demonstrate that they know and can do more than others, so they will be happy to do a good deed. This, by the way, is one of the ways to establish effective human relations. In the same way, you can refuse to perform a task that is beyond your own competence. You should not abuse this opportunity too often, so as not to be among the dismissed due to inconsistency with the position held.

It is recommended to find a way to resolve the issue, to the satisfaction of the manager, using available resources and the knowledge of other people. I have been in leadership positions for 15 years, so I can confirm that bosses prefer honest employees who do not exaggerate their knowledge, but are ready to constantly learn new things. A know-it-all worker will simply lose time, and the company will lose income from an overdue or poorly executed project.

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