I've got more than 50 letters behind my name from various certifications, have read thousands of books, earned national recognition for various roles, founded multiple companies, and have rubbed shoulders with some of the smartest people on the planet.
Want to know what one of the best responses to a question I've ever heard is?
Best Response to a Question When You Don't Know the Answer
When asked something you're not certain of the answers to, the most powerful response I've ever heard is, “I don't know. But I'll find out.”
That response is an honest one. By admitting you don't know everything, it demonstrates integrity, and also gives you a chance to follow up and build trust with others when you do find the answer. It is impossible for one individual to know everything.
We Don't Even Know All the Questions, Much Less the Answers
We don't even know what questions to ask, much less the answers. For example, did you ever stop to think to ask the question, “What's an innovative way South Korea produces electricity?”
If you had thought to ask that question, you might have found out something interesting. Apparently, in South Korea, they have solar panels in the middle of some highways. Not only do those produce clean energy, but they also have a bicycle path underneath where cyclists are protected from the sun and isolated from traffic.
But most of us would not have known that answer unless we had just happened to see it on Reddit or lived in that area. I would have never even thought to ask the question, much less know the answer.
Pretending to Know Everything Makes People Trust You Less
Wikipedia alone claims to have 1.9 edits EVERY SECOND and 594 new articles every day. So how could one possibly claim to know everything? If you try to sound like you know everything, it just makes others trust you less, not more.
When asked a question you don't know, try using the phrase, “I don't know, but I will find out.”
Then, assuming you're interested in the answer, go find out.
I think you'll find letting go of the need to know everything quite freeing.
About the Author
Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, is the founder of this site, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.
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