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Are you confident enough to say that you don’t know?

Are you confident enough to say that you don’t know?

It’s a sign of strength to admit when you just have no idea.

Know-it-alls are overrated. In fact, even if they’re rated by other know-it-alls, they’ll come in with inflated ratings. Saying, out loud, to a group of people, “I don’t know.” has hidden advantages most don’t know about.

No one likes a know-it-all. Most people (secretly) admire the I-don’t-know-it-alls.

Know-it-alls are usually overcompensating for what they actually don’t know. Their confidence is so low that they won’t miss an opportunity to shout from the rooftops that they know something–even when they don’t know. Their favorite opportunities are when no one is really sure because then they can swoop in for the kill and profess their superior knowledge among the lowly I-am-just-not-really-sure folks.

“Ik heb geen idee in welke groep ik ga volgend jaar.” — Lu on first day of school. [I have no idea what class I’ll be in next year.]

Are you confident enough to say that you don't know?

Are you confident enough to say that you don’t know?

My 10-year old had has first introductory day of school yesterday. It’s actually the end of this year, but it’s a welcome-to-next-year-kids day for those coming in the fall. Each kid had to introduce him- or herself and say which grade they were heading into. We’re new here. Even I don’t understand what the years are called. With exaggeration on “geen idee” [no idea], he laughed as he openly admitted that he didn’t know what next year was called.

It takes guts to admit to a group of complete strangers that you don’t know something. But I think it’s an excellent way to break the ice. Let’s have a look.

7 reasons to admit you don’t know something:

  1. It breaks the ice.
  2. It brings you down off of any pedestal you might have thought you were on.
  3. It opens the door for others who are looking to help.
  4. Potential friends who were looking for a way to get to know you now have an open door.
  5. You’re clearly not a member of the know-it-all group.
  6. It opens up a path to learning–and an enthusiastic group of at-the-ready teachers.
  7. It’s refreshing.

To this day, a friend reminds me when, 20 years ago, I admitted to him at the time that I didn’t know the answer to something and I said it with a chuckle. I, apparently, wasn’t worried that I didn’t know and it didn’t bother me that I didn’t have the answer. I suppose that I figured I would learn the answer. I didn’t really get it then, but now I understand why he admired my bravery.

Are you brave enough to say that you just don’t know?


  1. Writing Every Day Beyond 1,000 Posts - […] Are you confident enough to say that you don’t know? (Jun 30) […]

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