So I then asked him why his employee couldn’t have answered that question the same way. He had a whammy of a realization at that moment and recognized he had approached it all wrong. In doing so, he had demoralized his employee, and he had added work back onto his plate. He course corrected this over the next 30 days, and by the time we all spoke again, the employee was back to client meetings and had an answer ready for when she didn’t know something, and the business owner was much happier!
Here’s the deal – it’s ok to say, “I don’t have the answer, but I can find it.” To anyone. At any time. The truth is, most people who are asking the question gladly accept that response, knowing their question will be addressed the right way. They would much rather hear that than being told that you do have the answer (when you actually don’t) and then watching to flub your way through a half-assed response. I would venture to guess that most people would rather hear, “I don’t know,” period – full stop – than someone pretending they do know the answer when they really don’t.