"I know everything, I rarely ask questions (because I have all of the answers), and I never have to take notes," said no successful PR professional ever. Professionals in every field always want to come off knowledgable, even when they aren't completely sure of what they're talking about. Seeming as though you're out of the loop in front of bosses or clients isn't ideal, but sometime's it is inevitable. During these moments, it is important that you admit to having an answer instead of making something up and risking your reputation.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to admit "I don't know everything," put some of these tips into practice:
- Be honest - It is okay if you don't have an answer to your boss or client's question, but it is never okay to lie to them. Do not make up an answer or lie under pressure. This will absolutely come back to haunt you.
- Be professional - Oftentimes when we are placed in situations that don't make us look good, we get defensive. It is essential that you keep your cool, and don't come off as attacking the person asking you a question.
- Seek out an answer - While not knowing something is perfectly fine, it is essential that you work to find out the information being requested. If a client has a question, do some research and provide them with the best answer possible. It is never okay to leave someone hanging.
- Call in reinforcements - If you are really struggling to find something out, maybe the answer lies beyond your own resources. Ask a fellow team member if they know where you can find what you're looking for. If needed, go to someone higher than you who has likely dealt with this type of situation before. Two heads are often better than one.
- Take notes for next time - More than likely, someone will request information like this from you again. Remember who you went to to find out the answers, so that next time will be less of a hassle.
Do not feel embarrassed when you have to tell someone "I don't know." It shouldn't be expected that you know everything about everything. As long as you follow a proper procedure and handle the situation professionally, it will all work out in the end.
For more on admitting that you don't have all of the answers, check out PR Daily's article on how to say "I Don't Know."