I Don’t Know… yet

I don't knowLast week, in Creating the Future’s Facebook group for consultants to community benefit orgs, an article from Forbes titled Are You Dealing With A Real Expert Or A Fake? 7 Ways To Tell led to an interesting discussion.

The list included this at #2: Real experts have no trouble saying: “I don’t know.”

That led to an interesting discussion – a discovery for many in the group, that we wanted to share here:

Kerri Karvetski: I have found saying “I don’t know” SOOOO liberating.

Joyce Lee-Ibarra: We had a pediatrician for our kids a while back who, when she posed a question to which they responded “I don’t know,” suggested that what they really meant was, “I don’t know…yet.” As she explained it, “I don’t know” tends to shut the brain down, it has a finality to it. But “I don’t know…yet” gives the brain room to continue working on the problem, to mull it over on the back burner. 

I love the spirit of the list, and recognize the importance of being willing to admit when you don’t have all the answers. I love the example <in a prior comment> of turning an “I don’t know” situation into a “I don’t know myself, but I can help you turn that around so that you realize you can find the answers.” It’s like problem-solving ju jitsu!

Regina Rodríguez: I think beyond any expertise in any given field, the “I don’t know, yet” practice and eventual mentality is one of the cornerstones of customer service at the large corporation where I had my first experience in professional development.  The “I don’t know” gives a much more final answer, as Joyce says, but doesn’t provide a solution, and my job was to always find a solution. I’ve carried that over to every job I’ve held since and is now an unspoken rule of life (and thank goodness for Google search on these wonderful smart phones!).

So… what has been your experience with saying either “I don’t know” or “I don’t know YET”?  And if you haven’t tried it, what might those 3 or 4 words make possible for both you and your clients?

If you’re interested in joining the FB group for consultants to community benefit orgs, we have only one criteria – that you are actively consulting or actively working to become a consultant (actively seeking clients) with a specific focus on community benefit orgs. Click here and tell us about your consulting work (or link to your web page) and we’ll link you up!

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