Instead of saying, “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about Shaka” and asking him to explain, I googled it and said, “of course”. Now, I did this because I obviously want to be cooler than I am and I hope that it made me seem exactly that. Obviously since I’m writing this and it will likely be read by that exact friends and now he’ll know, if he didn’t already, that I’m not actually cool. But I think that this point is important to make, and I hope that by the end of this you’ll understand why, and agree.
My nickname at an old job was “Ya Ya Tanner” because every time he asked me a question about whether or not I knew something, if I wasn’t sure, I would quickly say “yeah, yeah”. Now, you can imagine that if I did this enough that it garnered me a nickname, that was a problem. The problem is that when you don’t know what you’re doing and you pretend you know what you’re doing, then it will come back to bite you in the ass.
For a long time, I was a manager at a call center, and I always told my reps the same thing. If you don’t know an answer to a question, do not pretend that you do. Tell the person that you don’t know the answer to their question but that it is now your mission to get that answer. People respect that. People DON’T respect you pulling an answer out of your ass. And eventually, you’re going to get in over your head.
As difficult as it is, you have to be honest about your abilities. For example, I recently had a client that I was doing some work for. That client wanted me to add to my workload with them some aspects that I was not comfortable with. So, rather than pretending I knew how to solve the issue and not wanting to seem like an idiot, I said the following; “I’ve never used that particular application before. So here’s what I can do. I will review it, see what’s involved, determine whether or not it’s something I can work on and we’ll go from there”. In the end, it was not something I could do comfortably but I was able to find someone who could and create a relationship.
Honesty is always the best policy.