October 6, 2021

3 Reasons Why You Should Never Be Afraid to Say ‘I Don’t Know’

I don’t know.

I said these words in a meeting last week with a successful company founder. And it felt uncomfortable. Don’t we all struggle with confessing these words in our conversations, worrying that people will judge us, shame us, or think poorly of us? So we try to ‘fake it till we make it,’ which sometimes leads to more embarrassing detours in a discussion.

But here are three reasons why we shouldn’t shy away from saying these three words.

1. It’s not a sin to not know everything

Isn’t it annoying when someone tries so hard to show their intellectual acuity every chance they get? Even more so when they’re doing it for the sake of being admired and not to genuinely give value to the conversation.

I love how this verse in the Bible summarizes this point. It says, “Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.” (1 Corinthians 8:2)

2. It gives others the opportunity to share what they know

Have you ever noticed how people react when you say, “I don’t know”? Most people don’t demean or shame us. Instead, they get more excited to share what they know.

This gives them more confidence. So you gain their respect from letting them take the spotlight and you get new insight from listening. It’s a win-win.

3. It highlights humility and helps you deepen connection with others

We generally like humble people more than we like self-absorbed people. And when we admit our lack of knowledge on a topic, it signals that we’re in touch with our limitations and not with the delusion that we know everything.

People don’t avoid people who can say “I don’t know.”

We avoid those who can’t.

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