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longgone's avatar

Are you good at admitting when you don’t know the answer to a question?

Asked by longgone (17913points) September 30th, 2015

I tutor kids. With them, I can easily admit when I don’t know something.

Soon, however, I will be teaching adults. I’m hoping I’ll be honest with them, too, but I believe that might be more difficult.

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19 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes, I can easily admit to not knowing the answer to a question. Then I go look it up. In that way I have amassed the answer to every question there is.

Actually, admitting to the older kids you don’t have the answer, but you’ll sure find out, is a very good thing to do. It’s a good example.

DoNotKnow's avatar

Yes. I’m almost too comfortable for many people. (This inspired my fluther name) I have been told by coworkers that it is sometimes better to just make up an answer. And the phrase, “I don’t know” is one of my wife’s pet peeves. It drives her crazy.

That said, I think there is tremendous power in saying that you don’t know. And I do think it can be contagious. Not that everyone will suddenly start pretending that they don’t know. Rather, they are often more comfortable with extended periods of not knowing when the people around them are not faking that they know.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Shit! Where the hell did my editing time go? I’m sorry. I see you’re referring to adults. But my answer still stands. I taught adults for several years. It was fun to track down the answers together and learn other cool stuff along the way. There is a great sense of shared accomplishment in doing that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You know, people don’t realize that most of the time others can see right through them when they’re bullshitting.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It is understandable how you feel. I felt the same way when I first started facilitating hotel training courses for adults.

What I found is that admitting that I didn’t have all of the answers was not an issue. Here are some tips that were picked up through facilitator training classes and just basic experience.
* Admit on the front end of the course that I don’t know everything.

* If I don’t have the answer, pose it to the rest of the class. Someone else might. Occasionally, I would do this even if I did know the answer. This keeps the class involved.

* If no one knows the answer, make a note of it, either on a blank card or on a flip chart sheet. I would find out the answer when time permitted and follow-up with the class on the question and the answer. This technique also works if the discussion starts to get off-topic. Students appreciate keeping the class on schedule and getting the answer later more than running the class going into overtime.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, my ego is pretty in check most of the time and I can easily say ” I don’t know.” Better than to try and bluff your way through something. Recently I was sharing something I knew for a fact with someone and she is the know it all type and often takes an argumentative stance automatically. It was pretty funny because she accused me of making an assumption and I replied ” you are assuming that I am assuming when I am not”

Shut her right up, I was stunned that she had no reply to that. lol

janbb's avatar

Gee – I don’t know.

ucme's avatar

Yes i’m not.

longgone's avatar

Thanks for the input, and special thanks to @Pied_Pfeffer for the tips. I love all of them, and I think I am much more likely to be honest if I have a plan in advance.

You’re right in that admitting to ignorance is setting a good example and will likely inspire others to follow suit.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to say, “I don’t know” in the days leading up to the course. That should help, too.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

After many years of having Federal audits conducted at the company I worked for, I can say “I don’t know” and the next thing is to find the right person that does know the answer. BS’ing a Federal auditor can get you jail time and fines that you pay not your boss or company. 20 years and $50,000.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Yes. In my job if I’m not honest when I don’t know something and try to blag it, it could make the problem worse. Luckily, if I don’t know the answer to a question I probably know someone who does and I tell my customers so.

We recently worked with a very aggressive dog. A few of us in my work place felt that this case was very extreme and we were out of our depth. Luckily there is a lady nearby who is an expert on this very breed specific problem and so we passed the customer on to her who was very grateful that we didn’t just take her money and try and deal with a case that we didn’t feel confident we cod help with.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Sorry, it wouldn’t let me edit my typo in the last sentence.

janbb's avatar

@OpryLeigh Something fishy there!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah. I keep getting the editing window slammed on my fingers too.

Coloma's avatar

It’s a tiny window and it slams shut quickly.

kritiper's avatar

I am exceptionally good at admitting that I don’t know. It comes with the territory!~

OpryLeigh's avatar

@janbb It took me a while to get that!!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ha ha! Had to go back and find it, but now I get the joke.

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