I don't know. Would you like me to help you find the answer?

Pet peeve: People who refuse to say, "I don't know."

I don't know about your workplace, but at mine, this happens all the time. It makes me nuts. Soooo much time is wasted. In my experience, there are two ways this usually goes. Here's the first way.

I ask someone a question. Next thing I know I'm stuck listening to this someone talk for an extended period of time, going on and on saying everything BUT the answer to my question. In a work scenario it's not always the easiest thing to disengage from once I finally realize this someone doesn't have a hot clue how to answer my question but just can't bring them self to admit it, to just say the words out loud, "I don't know". Now this is a waste of time, something the non answeree seems to have way too much of, but it's not usually that detrimental. These people are put on the "to be avoided" list when a question needs to be quickly and efficiently answered.

It may sound like a non issue to you, but if one is just looking for some computer paper and it turns into a half hour long discussion that ends with you being just as paperless as you were when you set out to find some, it's friggin annoying, especially if you're in a hurry.

The second way is much more damaging. It's the people who cannot bring themselves to admit they don't know, or don't even know they don't know! Maybe they're new and trying to hide the fact they don't know yet. Quite often these people are in a position of support, providing guidance to the rest of us on actions like purchasing or hiring while navigating their way through ever changing rules and procedure. I get that it's not easy, but, it's their job.

These people can be asked if they're sure the information they're supplying is accurate to which they'll look you right in the eye and answer, yes.'re sure?


Ok, well, I guess you'd know, but I was just told something else by another person in your department. You're 100% positive on this?


Hmm...weird. Ok. Well, alright. Actually, I looked on the web page of the department we're talking about and it says this, which is different than that other answer you just gave me. What about that? Are you positive about that also?


Wow. Ok. Now you've got me wondering if I should just contact them myself, this all seems a little contradictory. I don't want to make a mistake here...

You can't contact them.

Huh? You sure?


So, you're saying I just have to rely on what you're telling me even though I have information that says the opposite.


Allllrighty then....I'll be off. Uh..thanks.

You're welcome.

 If you're reading this at work or before work, take a minute to practise saying it.

I don't know.

See? Not so bad, right? It's not that hard and in most cases, more helpful to admit it than trying to hide it. And if you get really good at saying it, you can always add to it. Yup! I'm not kidding, and it's not that tough to say either. It goes like this...

I don't know. Would you like me to help you find the answer?

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