{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Two common phrases that, in our industry, we can never utter when talking to a client -\n\n\"I don't remember\" and \"I don't know\".\n\nIt is a strict unspoken rule. Any semblance of incompetence is a major no no.", "post_id": "60f9c1c993b2cc0024f0d52d", "reply_count": 30, "vote_count": 10, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d051", "bowl_name": "Consulting" }

Two common phrases that, in our industry, we can never utter when talking to a client - "I don't remember" and "I don't know". It is a strict unspoken rule. Any semblance of incompetence is a major no no.

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I say “I don’t know” to clients all the time. I’m one guy who serves a limited number of clients in a limited number of industries on a limited range of topics. Why on earth would clients expect us to know everything? The key is the next words out of your mouth after saying you don’t know. Isn’t it better to say any of the following than lying to preserve a veneer of expertise? “I don’t know, but Jane Jones is amazing on that topic and just tackled something similar for a global brewery. Can we set up some time with her tomorrow?” “I don’t know, but we do know [part of the answer]. Our team can dig in on it. Can we talk again Monday?” “I don’t know. Tell me more about why you’re asking.” “I don’t know. It sounds something like a problem a distillery I served was having with [something different] where we…”

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Strict unspoken rule - seriously? Most client stakeholders these days are smart and reasonable as long as you get back to them with something which they couldn't have identified/done themselves - remember, they know more about their business than you, so nonsense/jargons wouldn't impress most people at a senior enough level. They can see thru the BS

The only seriously unspoken rule: liquor before beer, never fear...

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“Help me understand” resonates well - encourage you to try it out sometime.

likesmartfunny

I say "I don't know" constantly and it seems fine. However NEVER say that when it's something you should know. "Knowing what you're expected to know" is an absolutely critical consulting core competency.

likesmart

This.

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I have seen more incompetence when someone tries to give a definitive answer to a question they don’t know the answer to.

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I somewhat disagree. To deflect an outlandish request or question, I occasionally use “I’m not quite sure, but I’ll check with the team and get back to you on that”.

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I agree with this. Definitely can’t just say “I don’t know”

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Tbh it shows a lot of strength to flat out say idk. But if the question being asked is genuinely valuable you can try “idk. But it’s an important question, let’s work out how to get an answer/ let me take it away and find you an answer”

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Depends on what it relates to, as a previous comment said, if it’s related to something you “should” know, then agree and you should give what you can. However we get asked things all the time that are outside our realm and “I don’t personally know, not my area, but I know who to ask” is what we should be saying. BS’ing everything won’t get you far and will build zero credibility anyway.

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^This.

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I don’t know if I can remember this rule

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I have 0 issue with saying I don’t know. Just follow it with “but I’ll find out” Were consultants, we solve problems. We’re not geniuses who have every answer.

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Much rather hear “hmm I’m not sure but I’ll let into it” than some attempted BS answer.

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Oh young warrior, you will one day learn. No one knows or remembers everything.

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And that’s how consultants lose credibility, by pretending to know everything

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I can’t even remember all the things I don’t know

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I say “ l don’t know” and “honestly, I can’t recall” often. Never caused any issues

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I don’t follow this because I’m not a liar. I will usually say ‘I believe it to be x but let me make sure and get back to you.’

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Try to control the narrative. “that’s a good question. Sounds like what you’re really asking is whether ____. What we do know is _____.”

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🙄🙄

Yeah, I used to believe this nonsense and ended up looking foolish. I will tell you I don’t know quickly now. But I will also tell you I will try to find the answer.

“I don’t know” “I don’t know but let me investigate and get back to you” But should never be when it’s something you should know.

It's a yes yes. Clients respect you if you say you don't know but will get back with an answer.

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