I used to do gross sales, and I discovered three phrases very useful: “I don’t know.”
The web is filled with articles for salespeople providing alternate options to saying these three phrases, all with elaborate methods to keep away from admitting ignorance. And I get it: telling somebody you don’t know one thing is difficult, particularly if you’re attempting to persuade that particular person to present you cash.
But that’s why saying “I don’t know” is so highly effective. In a world stuffed with BS, the easiest way to face out is to resemble an precise human being. Admitting you don’t know one thing is probably the most human factor you are able to do.
You don’t know all the pieces — which is sensible
I used to construct WordPress web sites for native companies in Boulder, Colorado, and I by no means impressed potential purchasers greater than the occasions I admitted I didn’t know the reply to a query. It caught folks off guard, in the easiest way, as a result of they have been so used to folks pretending or weaseling their means out of corners.
“I don’t know,” I’d inform folks. “Let’s see if we can figure it out together.”
And then we might. If I wasn’t positive what a setting did, I’d experiment because the buyer watched. If it was one thing that may require extra analysis, I’d decide to figuring it out. But first, and at all times, I’d admit that I didn’t know.
I constructed a number of relationships utilizing the phrases “I don’t know” as a result of folks knew I wasn’t attempting to cover something. There’s belief in that. And what? The purchasers this impressed have been by far the most effective folks to work with. They have been, on the entire, extra curious, form, and usually simply the kind of folks you wish to work with on a mission.
Our tradition values confidence — it ought to worth competence
I ought to make clear: I’m not saying you need to be happy with your ignorance. Far from it. I’m saying that, if you don’t know one thing, it is best to admit it. You can’t be taught one thing in the event you assume you already realize it.
This is a tough factor to understand. If latest historical past has taught me something, it’s that American tradition values confidence greater than competence. Being loudly incorrect will get you on TV extra typically than being quietly curious, and it sadly looks as if a fast path to success in enterprise. There’s each incentive to fake all the pieces, and doing so can simply develop into reflexive.
Unfortunately, respecting the “I don’t know” isn’t common. I requested my Zapier coworkers, and plenty of of them advised me that, in earlier roles, they’d been punished professionally for admitting they didn’t know one thing. That’s a disgrace. Those corporations missed out on the very best model of my coworkers — the model that admits they don’t know one thing and tries to be taught.
Just admit you don’t know
None of that is to say that admitting you don’t know one thing is simple. It isn’t. My Zapier colleague Breetel Graves not too long ago wrote a Friday update on our inner weblog that I can’t cease fascinated with. She outlined her inner monologue within the lead-up to asking a query:
Breetel: I’m so dumb, I can’t ask this query. I can’t reveal how dumb I’m!
Other Breetel: Ok, let’s say you’re that dumb. What will occur in the event you reveal how dumb you’re?
Breetel: I’ll get fired.
Other Breetel: You in all probability gained’t be fired instantly. It’ll take a bit. You’ll in all probability have some warning.
Breetel: But then I’ll get fired.
Other Breetel: Yeah, however you’d in all probability get one other job. The native cheese store is hiring. You love cheese.
And then I requested the query.
This is so human it hurts. I do the identical factor: I’m wondering if admitting I don’t know one thing will end in some kind of disaster.
But what? It hasn’t, a minimum of for me — and it shouldn’t for anybody.