I saw a tweet this morning about a teaching from Jerry Weinberg
Which caused me to think, a lot, about the phrase “I don’t know”. Particularly its use in the software testing/QA roles. The potential to help development teams rather than hinder them.
I’ve always been worried that saying “I don’t know” will cause people to doubt my abilities. My thought process for this is “What if I say I don’t know but this person expected me to know and now they doubt all of my abilities.”
Reflecting on this and thinking about an upcoming talk from @ezagroba, I’m wondering if, in the longer term, this doubt might build trust.
I have a few different scenarios that make me flip-flop in my thinking on this though
- In an interview, I was asked a question that I genuinely did not know the answer to. I explained that to the interviewer saying I didn’t want to make up an answer that was not correct or helpful. I didn’t get that job. Feedback from the interviewer focused on that one line.
- In an interview, I was asked a question that I genuinely did not know the answer to. I explained that to the interviewer saying I didn’t want to make up an answer that was not correct or helpful. I got this job! The company said they appreciated my honesty and how I didn’t try to make up an answer I didn’t know.
- In our development team, we had a meeting (probably sprint planning or something). I didn’t know something but I didn’t tell the team. We wasted a lot of time figuring things out after that because I hadn’t said I didn’t know so nobody knew to help me and by the time they did, we were close to a release.
I’m wondering what are your experiences of saying “I don’t know”? Or conversely, what are your experiences of hearing people say “I don’t know”, particularly in a software testing environment?