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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

Why Not Knowing (and Admitting it) is 100% OK

You know the scene: You're in a meeting and everyone starts talking about something you've never heard of. Maybe they even ask you what you think of it. Instead of admitting that you have no idea what they're talking about, you just nod along and smile until the conversation moves on to something you can contribute to.

By not admitting your gap in knowledge you may think you're saving face, but in her article "Never Heard of It," Lyza Danger Gardner reminds us that it may be holding you back.

Believe it or not, nobody can know everything. Sharing that you're not familiar with a topic doesn't make you incompetent, it just means you haven't learned about that thing yet. By admitting that—a simple "I'm actually not familiar with X. Can you fill me in?" will do—you remove the pressure of not knowing off of your shoulders, demonstrate to your colleagues that you're enthusiastic to continue learning about new things in your field, and gain knowledge that you can take with you into interactions to come.

So, today, when your colleague asks what you think of Google's new algorithm or the latest news about your company—and you're clueless—resist the urge to just vaguely agree and move on. I know it can be scary to admit you don't know, but I bet you'll learn a thing or two.

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