When “I Don’t Know” Is an Answer
Credibility is key in the business world. It’s imperative for leaders to know what they’re talking about and to speak with conviction, but no one expects you to know the answer to every question every time. The good news is that, when faced with a question you weren’t expecting, there are ways to respond without coming across to your team as disingenuous or underprepared.
I value a promise to solve a problem over feigned knowledge of an answer. Saying, “Let me look into it and I’ll get back to you” or, better yet, offering to consult with your team’s resident expert on the matter at hand, builds trust that you can be relied on to find answers. In fact, failure to do so can actually diminish your credibility and the perception of your expertise or leadership abilities.
An earnest answer with a promise to do research will get you further than an exaggeration of your knowledge every time. Don’t think of saying, “I don’t know” as a sign of failure, think of it as an opportunity to get innovative!