It rolls off your tongue like an easy american ‘r’. But, this one sentence may be sabotaging your relationships.
So, what is it? I don’t know.
No, seriously. It’s “I don’t know.”
Its one of the most common most responses when someone asks you for information. It takes no effort, no time and no energy to let every question posed to you to slide by with a simple – “I don’t know.”
This easy phrase could be the reason behind people being unhelpful towards you or steering clear of you when they need help.
So, maybe we can re-think our approach.
When someone asks you a question – HIT PAUSE. Before you let out the dreaded 3 letter phrase – think for a moment about why they are asking you. Obviously – they are looking for a little help to get to their ultimate goal.
If you do not know the answer, and its ok not to – you can still help in some ways. [If they knew where to get the information, they probably wouldn’t be wasting their time asking you.]
Let’s take an example.
You are at your office – and your colleague comes to you if you know where the boss is.
Option 1: You can say: I don’t know.
Your colleague’s pursuit of information has stopped dead in its tracks. They have hit a dead end, and will have to look somewhere else for the information they are looking for – with no help from you.
Option 2: You can say: I’m not sure, but I saw him two hours ago leaving the office with xyz. Maybe she would have a better idea.
See, here – you still may not have the information – but at least you helped in some way. The person who came to you will be grateful that you took a moment of your time to help in some way.
Option 2 requires you to pause and more importantly to think. But going with option 2 can really change your relationships. People will not only come to you more often, but will be more helpful when you go to them.
Here are some phrases that can help you drop the dreaded phrase:
1. I’m not sure but …. [fill in the information that could be helpful]
2. Hang on a second, I can find out for you.
3. I think xyz would know the answer to your question.
4. Why don’t you try looking [here] for the answer.
Try it out, and let me know if you put more smiles on faces with your new approach!