Although many of us are reluctant to say it, “I don’t know”, is a perfectly legitimate answer. In fact by admitting what we don’t know we may actually open the door to receiving more information and then actually solving a problem for ourselves and the others around us at work.
Nobody has all the answers to the myriad of questions and situations that arise in our busy offices but sometimes we stay quiet or even pretend to know the answer because we don’t want to appear ill-informed. Even if we have developed this bad habit, it’s never too late to change. Owning what we don’t know gives us the freedom to ask questions, to get help, or even look up the information on our own.
It also signals that no matter how long we have been around we are still prepared to learn and grow in our job. Our supervisors will appreciate it because they can then provide the support we need to improve and other less experienced co-workers like it because if you can admit you don’t know something, so can they.
Knowing what we don’t know allows us to change the way we work and the way we think. It lets in a breath of fresh information that can only help us to be better employees and better people. It may even lead us to new solutions to a range of other problems. Whoever thought that not knowing something could be so useful?
Mike Martin is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and The Walker on the Cape, a Sgt. Windflower mystery.