I used to do gross sales, and I discovered three phrases very useful: “I don’t know.”
The web is filled with articles for salespeople providing options to saying these three phrases, all with elaborate methods to keep away from admitting ignorance. And I get it: telling somebody you don’t know one thing is tough, particularly while you’re making an attempt to persuade that particular person to provide you cash.
However that’s why saying “I don’t know” is so highly effective. In a world stuffed with BS, one of the simplest ways to face out is to resemble an precise human being. Admitting you don’t know one thing is probably the most human factor you are able to do.
You don’t know all the things — which is smart
I used to construct WordPress web sites for native companies in Boulder, Colorado, and I by no means impressed potential shoppers greater than the instances I admitted I didn’t know the reply to a query. It caught folks off guard, in one of the simplest ways, as a result of they have been so used to folks pretending or weaseling their manner out of corners.
“I don’t know,” I’d inform folks. “Let’s see if we will determine it out collectively.”
After which we might. If I wasn’t certain what a setting did, I’d experiment because the buyer watched. If it was one thing that might require extra analysis, I’d decide to figuring it out. However first, and all the time, I’d admit that I didn’t know.
I constructed a number of relationships utilizing the phrases “I don’t know” as a result of folks knew I wasn’t making an attempt to cover something. There’s belief in that. And you recognize what? The shoppers this impressed have been by far the very best folks to work with. They have been, on the entire, extra curious, type, and usually simply the form of folks you need to work with on a mission.
Our tradition values confidence — it ought to worth competence
I ought to make clear: I’m not saying you have to be happy with your ignorance. Removed from it. I’m saying that, while you don’t know one thing, it is best to admit it. You’ll be able to’t be taught one thing if you happen to assume you already comprehend it.
It is a laborious factor to understand. If current historical past has taught me something, it’s that American tradition values confidence greater than competence. Being loudly incorrect will get you on TV extra typically than being quietly curious, and it sadly looks as if a fast path to success in enterprise. There’s each incentive to fake you recognize all the things, and doing so can simply change into reflexive.
Sadly, respecting the “I don’t know” isn’t common. I requested my Zapier coworkers, and lots of of them advised me that, in earlier roles, they’d been punished professionally for admitting they didn’t know one thing. That’s a disgrace. These firms missed out on the absolute best model of my coworkers — the model that admits they don’t know one thing and tries to be taught.
Simply admit you don’t know
None of that is to say that admitting you don’t know one thing is straightforward. It isn’t. My Zapier colleague Breetel Graves not too long ago wrote a Friday update on our inside weblog that I can’t cease desirous about. She outlined her inside monologue within the lead-up to asking a query:
Breetel: I’m so dumb, I can’t ask this query. I can’t reveal how dumb I’m!
Different Breetel: Okay, let’s say you’re that dumb. What’s going to occur if you happen to reveal how dumb you’re?
Breetel: I’ll get fired.
Different Breetel: You in all probability gained’t be fired instantly. It’ll take a bit. You’ll in all probability have some warning.
Breetel: However then I’ll get fired.
Different Breetel: Yeah, however you’d in all probability get one other job. The native cheese store is hiring. You’re keen on cheese.
After which I requested the query.
That is so human it hurts. I do the identical factor: I ponder if admitting I don’t know one thing will lead to some form of disaster.
However you recognize what? It hasn’t, a minimum of for me — and it shouldn’t for anybody.