Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Build trust by saying "I don't know"

Saying "I don't know is hard." Everyone wants to have all the answers, and no one wants to look dumb. But you can't know it all, and it's much, much smarter to admit that you don't. Why? When you say "I don't know," you build credibility. Being willing to admit what you don't know implies that when you do have an answer, you're confident that you know what you're talking about. It also builds trust, because the person you're speaking with knows it's O.K. to say "I don't know," too.

Of course, you can do better than "I don't know." You can say "I don't know, but I'll find out." Or "I don't know, but I know someone who does." Or "I don't know, and that's outside my area of expertise." But sometimes a simple "I don't know" is enough. You don't have to solve every problem.

The key is authentically saying "I don't know" often enough, but not too often. Say it too infrequently, and you'll be known as a know it all. Say it too much, and you'll be known for not knowing anything.

So how often should you say "I don't know"? The honest answer is, I don't know. You're going to have to figure that one out on your own.

1 comment:

Business901 said...

So very true. In over 30 years of Sales management, I have only seen the best sales people willing to have the courage to say this. The less experience well...simply showed that.