I don’t know. I’ll take this answer over the hundreds of disguised answers that mean the same thing. This is especially true at work.
We feel it better to default to some buzzword-laden response that means the same thing.
To be judged as ill-equipped, unqualified or incompetent- oh, hell..not that. Anything but that! Let me throw-up about 50 words that will indicate I’m knowledgeable and I belong where I am. It’s the system that has somehow failed us both! That’s why I can’t answer your question! I’ll straighten everything out- hold the line.
If you’re in my line of work, some grizzly veteran told you when you were just a pup there was a million dollar answer when this situation presented itself. You were told with incredible zeal and pride by the living, breathing caricature to answer: “You know what?..I don’t know…but I can find out for you!”. This advice was usually linked to some type of tie-down commitment request directed at the customer- meaning the legwork answer entitles them to ask for something in return.
[Example: I don’t know- but if I find out and the answer is suitable, then can we write up the order?]
I think all people put in this position should look at the salesperson and answer, deadpan: “I don’t know”. Of course, that answer will only get the “eager to close” salesperson ALL LATHERED UP.
Sigh. There’s so many things in the monstrously dated Classic Sales Training routine that are painful to read and even worse to experience. I’m a consumer too.
I don’t know. How refreshing.
The politician asks the scientist a question. The scientist answers: I don’t know.
The Wall Street analyst asks the business executive to somehow predict 2 years into the future: I don’t know.
The man sincerely asks his friend if his marriage going to be ok? I don’t know.
Is there really a heaven where I get to be with my loved ones and live in eternal bliss after I die? I don’t know. (That one could earn me the scorn of most of society..again, sigh).
I don’t know is not only an acceptable answer, it’s often the only answer. So when Steve-O The Sales Monster INSISTS on a *quid pro quo for retrieving that information for you, well, you know what to say.
*I’m sentenced to 20 lashes for this egregious Buzzword infraction.