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I don’t know

Good Group Tips

In principle, most of us want to appear knowledgeable. We want to provide an answer to every question. We want to impress our fellow group members. In reality, saying “I don’t know” is often more helpful. When we think we know things it can close our mind to new, more accurate knowledge. When we convey what we think we know to others, it can lead them astray and provide a false sense of security.

Groups working with presumed knowledge rather than actual knowledge can waste huge amounts of time. Worse, decisions based on false presumptions rarely hold up over time and usually bring costly consequences. When we say, “I don’t know,” it inspires us all to learn, to get the facts, to ponder until clarity emerges.

Practical Tip: Adopt a posture of “I don’t know” and say, “I don’t know” until you really do know. Resist the temptation to impress; rather, answer to the higher callings of honesty, integrity, and humility.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

4 thoughts on “I don’t know

  1. In the research phase of my book, I ran across a intriguing form of meditation from a Buddhist thinker: whenever you have a thought, add “I don’t know” to the end of it. Since then I’ve been playing with the idea of “I don’t know” as a fundamental mindset that keeps us open to others’ thinking and ideas. Here’s a link to the meditation article (I THINK it still works):

  2. Yes! This is what I tell my managers too…if we DON’T know, then’s let’s do what we can so that we DO know.

  3. I love this one, because I always thought I must know, or I have to know. Being able to say I Don’t Know is so empowering, because oftentimes I don’t have the answers. Now that I can say I Don’t Know, it gives me a chance to research a problem, or learn more about a situation, then I will know.

  4. Thank you so much for sending me this helpful tip. It is really true that sometimes people plays like “Know it all” episode. But I’ve realized this wouldnt help thus it may cause miscommunication. I really do hope that you will be inspired more to help other people in all parts of the world by giving brilliant ideas on Good Group Decision Tips. I even hope to have a hard bound copy of it so that I can proudly share it to my friends also.

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