How I learnt that saying “I don’t know” is the Most Powerful answer you can ever give
In modern times, everyone suddenly has an opinion, made instantaneously transmissible through the medium of the internet. But "I don't know" is slowly becoming an influence technique, because NO ONE ELSE is saying it.
Do not index
Do not index
Normalise not having an opinion on things you don’t understand.
“I don’t know enough about that to have an informed opinion”, has been a fun and empowering phrase to pull out when applicable. It doesn’t diminish confidence, it boosts it.
Napoleon Hill first made that statement during his famous Science of Success lectures delivered in the late nineties. That truth is relevant even today. He quipped that, whenever you felt compelled to say something in response to a comment or question on a subject you felt you knew too little about to make an informed decision, it was best to decline, because saying “I don’t know” opens you up to your most powerful self – the self willing to learn, to be educated, to become better.
Anyone open to learning and listening rather than forming an opinion based on incomplete information, was sure to leave the engagement a better person.
One famous Wall Street executive says, using the words, “I don't know about this but I'll think about it and get back to you” may not gel well with people who pride in keeping a certain status of “expert”, but in the long-term it does reflect better on a person.
That notwithstanding, you can have a moral opinion about something without having to get a doctorate in said subject. Although, the matter of morals and ethics may lead into a different conversation, one thing is certain; normalise not having an opinion on things you don’t understand.
Focus is the new opium for a productive “high”
Truth is, people don’t realise that they add fake value when they give an opinion on something they don't fully understand. Why? Because it requires too much pretence and effort to be something you’re not. Keeping up appearances as they term it, is tedious. Psychology terms this cognitive dissonance (the discomfort a person feels when their behaviour does not align with their values or beliefs), which often occurs when a person holds two contradictory beliefs at the same time.
Expressing your ignorance on a subject or topic with a simple, I don’t know, stops you getting distracted from doing what you do, or can do, best. – The bane of any multi-talented individual is getting caught up in everything, and master of none.
Here’s a quick self-check for bullshit:
Normalise only having a strong opinion on anything you could convincingly argue both sides of.
Having an opinion takes energy. Pick your battles carefully.
Not having an opinion on things that don’t affect you is also a great way to increase quality of life.
Normalise curiosity over judgement.
You don't need an opinion on everything. It's okay to sit a conversation out and listen. It’s been observed that people will ultimately respect you more when you say “I don’t know about this, please explain”. There’s an emotional response to this kind of openness.
Plus, you benefit from it. In the end you learn something valuable.
If we’re being honest…
Politicians would never have to campaign any other way except to say, “I don’t know how to fix the economy, but I will need your help if I am given the mandate to lead”…
Wouldn’t that be a more progressive society, where voters do not pretend that all wisdom rests with the elected officials? And that suddenly winning an election didn’t make you the infinite repository of all economic and diplomatic wisdom? I truly wonder.
It would benefit society so much if people acknowledged that they don't really know everything.
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion”
– Proverbs 18:2
Weekly Product Find
With every post, I’ll share a remarkable product/s I discovered that may be a game-changer in its space:
MINDSDB (Build a Celebrity Chatbot) – MindsDB is an emerging low-code machine learning platform to help developers easily build #AI-powered solutions like chatbots from celebrity personalities.