“The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don’t know what to do.” –John W. Holt Jr.
Have you ever been around people who, even when you know that they don’t know much about the subject at hand, they keep talking anyway as if they were totally knowledgeable? Have you found yourself embarrassed that you didn’t know all that much about a subject, but you want so bad to be a part of the topic so you pipe in too without really knowing what you are talking about?
Some of the wisest words that can be spoken at a time that you are not sure about something are “I don’t know” Of course we are all entitled to our own opinion, but if you really don’t know anything about the subject at hand the best thing to do is admit it and say, “I don’t know”. The good thing about admitting not knowing something is, we then are open to finding out more about the subject from someone who does know about it. That is the beauty of having others who have talents and knowledge that we don’t have and to whom we can go to get some answers.
I believe that the reason many of us share our views about a subject we know little about is the fact that we have a need to “belong” to some group or crowd. However, the fact that we don’t know everything about whatever is being discussed is actually very natural and normal and we shouldn’t feel embarrassed. By using the wisdom in these words “I don’t know” we will be found wiser than if we are to just warm the air with our words. If we remain silent for a time it might amaze us with just how much knowledge we can gain by doing so! And if you state that you don’t know something, then you can rest assured that you are in good company!
On the other hand, what you do know is a tremendous contribution! It pays to know your stuff well so that you can be a help to all the other people who don’t know what you do. It reminds me of a little joke that I heard some time ago about a guy that tells everyone that he and his brother knew everything! So one day someone challenged him and said “oh yeah, well then what is the percentile of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere?” To the which he responded, “I don’t know” and this person said “ha, you see, you don’t know everything!” then he quipped “that is something my brother knows!” Ha! So, it is comforting to know that you don’t have to know everything, you can get your brother’s help!
And of course, if you don’t know something, ask Google or Wikipedia! How much do you know?