I Don’t Know

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

We live in a world where information is made more and more readily available to us. We have the History Channel and Wikipedia and CNN and Google and the news and blogs and online newspapers and PBS and E! and Amazon and Kindle and all our conversations with one another, and then we have Blackberries and iPhones and G3’s to look everything up on, right at our fingertips. And still, we don’t know everything, yet we choose to pretend like we know things when we don’t. Maybe it’s because of all these mediums that we think we ought to know more than we really do. But are you your Blackberry or are you you?

I’ve been saying, “I don’t know,” a lot lately. It’s liberating to not have to know what people are talking about. It keeps me in a curious state of learning, rather than an arrogant state of knowing. I’m not saying it’s not good to be in the know. Knowing is not arrogance, but not being curious is.

There is nothing wrong with not knowing. And even less wrong with saying so. Saying I don’t know can be the opening to a great conversation—even if you’re already in the middle of one. An eye opening experience to something you’ve never heard about, or a different perspective on something you know little on (heck, even if you’re an expert on the subject isn’t another’s perspective a great door for expansion?). I Don’t Know could be the answer to all our problems. Even when we know what things are, maybe it’s time to say, I’ve heard of that, but tell me your experience.

I love listening to others’ experiences because it allows me to become more aware of myself. Am I shifting in my seat? Am I enjoying this? Do I wish I were somewhere else? Does this topic make me uncomfortable? Do this person’s thoughts spark thoughts of my own? What’s my favorite part of this conversation? Did I learn anything new? Anything new about myself?

By listening to other people talk you get a chance to listen to yourself. Not on the outside, but on the inside (where it counts). You get to pay attention to whether or not you’re even interested in what your speaker is saying at all. You get to be fascinated and know that XYZ fascinates you in a way you didn’t understand before because you’d only known what you thought was everything on the subject. When you listen to people with the intent of getting to know yourself better, you begin to become your own expert.

I challenge you not just to say I Don’t Know more often, but then to get curious. Get curious about what you didn’t know. Get curious about the conversation. Get curious about yourself. By admitting not knowing and then being curious, you’ll gain knowledge about yourself you never knew you had the capacity for. You’ll break down the façade of being all-knowing and be able to relax. You’ll be able to breathe. You’ll be human. You’ll be you.

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