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Avoid Saying I Don't Know

Feb 23, 2023

When someone asks you something and you answer is “I don’t know”, what are you actually doing?

I think there are different situations. For example, if you truly do not know the answer to the question asked, “I don’t know” serves as a token for you to give the person, so that the person may move forward and find the answer some other way.

If you actually know the answer but say “I don’t know”, it is possible that you choose not to talk about it for some reason. You are blocking further discussion.

Simply replying “I don’t know” to a question stops you from thinking or exploring. It blocks the curiosity and the creativity. It stops the brain from exploring or finding an answer.  

Sometimes it feels convenient to say “I don’t know”. It gives you an excuse not to think further. Take my children as an example. When asked what they want to do for dinner, most of the time they would say “I don’t know”. Do they just not want to think about the not-so-infinite possibilities of food choices, or are they convincing themselves that they are confused and unsure what to pick?

Either way, I think it is good practice to avoid saying “I don’t know” as much as possible. What if you really do not know the answer to a factual question? You can always answer with “I don’t know but I’m going to find out”, or “I don’t know yet but I’ll get back to you”. That way you are still utilizing your curious mind.

What about a question that may be less tangible? For example, what do you want to do with your life? For some people, the answer may be “I don’t know”, They may not have thought about it. Or they may have been thinking about it, but still confused and still lacking clarity. What if you know the answer? Imagine that you do. Think about it. How would you answer this question? Sometimes, the more you think about it, the closer it is you are to the answer. You get to examine your life with an open mind. You get to explore what you truly want and not focusing on what others want for you.

Having a clear idea of what you want requires the removal of “I don’t know” as your final answer.

We are not expected to know everything. However, we can learn many things in life, including finding solution to a problem. If we simply stop at “I don’t know”, then our focus is on the question or the problem, instead of putting our focus on the solution. If we are solution-focused, then we probably will not answer with “I don’t know” alone.

I invite you to always be curious and always be ready to learn and grow. Whenever you do not know an answer to a problem, instead of going straight to “I don’t know”, explore and find possible solutions.

Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?


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