Sometimes “I Don’t Know” is the Correct Response: Dale Hansen

I was at my local banking institution, and I had cancelled the accounts that I was no longer using. When I checked my phone I was thinking that I would see one account, and there were two. Before I left the bank a week earlier, the teller assured me that all balances were moved and that I only had one account. It wasn’t the case. So back into the bank I went.

The next teller I talked with listened to my story, smiled, and pulled up my account again. She narrowed her eyes, leaned toward the computer screen, did some clicks with her mouse, and looked up at me and smiled. She turned the screen toward me and said, “Here, sir, is the answer.”

The account was showing closed. “Why is it still showing on the screen if it is closed?” I asked her.

She shrugged her shoulders, smiled, and said “I don’t know.”

She gave me an answer, but she didn’t have all the answers, and she was comfortable in communicating that fact. I was okay with that as well and that was something new for me. I am a get-to-the-answer kind of guy.  Why was I okay that this wasn’t in a neat little bow?

Because… even though she didn’t know all the answers, she did land me at a solution. The account was closed. There wouldn’t be any transactions. She included me. She didn’t just look at her screen, she turned it and showed me, and then pointed to closed.

Sometimes being honest that we don’t know, as professionals, is the correct response. We don’t know, but we are going to find a solution. Situations out of our control, people out of our control, technology not working like it is designed to work, having never run into this before, all can stop us in our tracks. But admitting that we don’t know, and that we are going to find a solution, can get all involved moving in a positive direction.

I have tried to answer questions I didn’t know the answer to. I had a social worker who ask me directions to an event once. I knew how I would get to the event, but I didn’t know the name of all the roads involved. I missed telling her one turn.

…and I got her lost.

She never was the same around me after that. If I could have a do-over, I would have admitted that I didn’t know, but I had someone who did. I had a dispatcher at the time who was a genius with maps and directions. (Sigh) If I just had the self awareness to do that.

I have always been a get-to-the-answer kind of guy. Today I have realized that in some cases, one needs to get-to-the-realization that they may not have the answer. But someone, or something does, and that can land in a solution.

Be Sociable, Share!
8 Comments Showing 50 most recent
  1. Jen Subotnik

    Love this, honesty is always the key! Even if it means we have to humble ourselves sometimes!
    Thanks for sharing Dale!

  2. Kelly Workman

    Spot on! It can be a challenge to admit that we do not know something. We, as people, all want to help each other. But in moments that we simply don’t know, the important thing is to find a solution from someone who does to reach a positive outcome in the end for everyone.

    • admin Post author

      Thank you Dr. Workman. That means a lot.

  3. Gail Reagan

    No one can know all the answers to everything, it’s just not possible. And sometimes we “don’t know” what direction to turn for help, we “don’t know” the correct questions to ask or the people to turn to. We can only try and do the best we can!

    • admin Post author

      Our best is our best.
      Can you believe I got that social worker lost??
      Boy was she mad.

  4. Marie

    very nice.

Leave a comment