Mastering the art of admitting you don’t know something

Knowing it’s OK to not know everything, a helpful tactic to learn

I don’t know when it happened. When people became incapable of admitting they don’t know something. It feels like overnight it became a high crime not to have an answer regardless of the lack of knowledge of the subject.

Having worked in retail for 8 years and during my design career, I’ve experienced my fair share of being ignorant about a subject. I know that I’m not perfect and that my knowledge isn’t 100% in all things. Having the ability to say “I don’t know but, I’ll look into it” doesn’t feel like asking too much. I always feel empowered by my willingness to find an answer about something I don’t know. Accepting this and getting to learn from those with more knowledge is even more empowering and will help further your career.

When people give made up answers or outright lying, its one of the most annoying and dishonorable things people can do. Lying doesn’t help someone looking for an answer. Lying doesn’t make you a good resource that people want to come to. Lying helps no one. In the end, you will look unreliable and untrustworthy.

Understand it’s perfectly fine not to know something, no one really expects you to know everything. If they do, then they need to be much more realistic in their expectation of people’s skills and knowledge. How you deal with this lack of knowledge is what will really define you. Do you try and find the answer and educate the question asker and yourself? If not it may say something about your passion and desire for your craft.

No one likes liars. Just be honest with yourself and the person asking the question, such as a boss, client or coworker. In the end it makes you look more dedicated and gives you a position of power being that source of information. You will have gained their respect for going above and beyond. Not knowing is fine as long as you get the information; empower and educate yourself; and don’t let it define you.


This is still new for me and I’m trying to get in a habit of writing more. Share any thoughts in the comments below or on my twitter @teekatwo.

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