How many times in the past month have you heard someone emphatically, 100% say that to you? Not – I think I understand or this is what I’m thinking to solve this or I haven’t done this before but I’ve put this plan together – but really, 100% – I have no idea.
In today’s age of Social Media, and as a result, incessant workplace Collaboration Tools, coupled with the fear that one might lose their job and have to go on another job search, we don’t hear this as much as we should. After all, no one is knowledgeable in everything, we can’t be and yet people continue to act as if they literally know everything.
I 100% know nothing about Photography, my brother yes, me not a chance. I will not even bother acting like I do because I have a first-hand account of what true photography knowledge looks like (not the iPhone kind) and I know nothing about it! So why even bother.
But the fear – this is real. Is it bad to say that you don’t know what you are doing? Of course not, but we have a tendency to make people feel like this, either through pressures of delivery or assumptions of someone’s knowledge because they work in a particular area.
You: You’re a Software Developer, you must know Python.
Me: Um, no I don’t actually, I know a lot in the Microsoft Stack, but I don’t do it all.
When I sit down with someone to review a problem they are working on that is not going so well and they flat out say they don’t know – two things happen – One, my respect for them jumps a notch because they are being honest with me which I truly appreciate and Two, this shifts my paradigm I now am able to realize where exactly they need my help and what I need to do to help them which make our chances of success that much greater.
It’s hard to be this honest with ourselves (because who wants to say they don’t know anything about something) but really – it’s the best step forward to start understanding something.