Credibility 101: 4 Smart Reasons Saying ‘I Don’t Know’ Wins

As a leader, you don't always have to know it all

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As a leader, sometimes you’d think you must have all the answers—or at least fake like you do. But oftentimes, a simple, “I don’t know,” is a better solution and does less damage than providing faulty or hasty direction without investigation. Here are smart reasons going the “I don’t know” route wins:

1. Your audience will hold you accountable.

If you pretend to know the answer without confirming accuracy, the audience may check your facts and prove you wrong (maybe even publicly) during or after the event. You just caused your credibility to decrease, fast.

2. We all want leaders we can trust and who trust in themselves.

Being authentic, honest and relatable will help you connect with your audience and retain their respect for you, which is more important than having the right answer. In a recent article on 99u about trusting yourself James Victore writes, “Practice being in the state of not knowing, establishing comfort within trust.” Your audience or team will respect you for acknowledging you don’t know and appreciate your honesty.

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