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It’s OK to NOT Know…
Marsha Egan, CSP - Workplace Productivity Coach and E-mail Expert Marsha Egan, CSP - Workplace Productivity Coach and E-mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Nantucket , MA
Wednesday, December 04, 2019


One of my mentors years ago admonished our team to “not ask a question if you already know the answer.” At first we thought he was crazy–why would we ever do that?

But it happens more than you think. At home. At work. In life.

Consider the parent who asks the child, “would you like to wear your green coat or your blue coat – it is cold outside.” When the child answers, “I wanna wear the green coat,” the parent responds, “but the blue coat is warmer, you should wear the blue coat.” The same thing can happen when a manager asks the employee if he wants to volunteer for Project A or Project B. When the employee chooses project a, and the manager responds, “Are you sure? Project B could be so much better for your career.”

While this doesn’t happen all the time, it does happen.

Consider the reaction of the person answering. How would you feel?

  • Why ask if you won’t let me choose the coat I want?
  • Are you manipulating me into your “right decision.”
  • Hey, do you think I’m stupid?
  • That’s the last time I’ll answer – you’ll tell me the answer anyway.
  • I won’t do that again, I don’t want to be wrong.

This point is emphasized alot in my coach training. Coaches ask questions that enable true self discovery. The questions should not be biased or leading. The questions are best when they come from a place of truly not knowing the answer.

Consider the difference in these two questions:
What can you do to get promoted in the next 2 years?
What are your career goals or the next 2 years?

We all have opinions and biases that can cloud our curiosity. By giving ourselves permission to truly not know an answer or to not be invested in that answer puts the spotlight and accountability on the person you’re asking, rather than feeding your need to be right…

So, going back to the kid and the coat. If the parent goes with the child’s decision to wear the green coat, and gets very cold outside, he/she learns. If the parent feels strongly that the blue coat should be worn, hand the child the coat. If the manager believe that project b is better for the employee’s career, explain the rationale rather than wait to see which one the employee chooses.

Another way of saying this is — if you know the answer, share the answer. Avoid making it into a leading question. Don’t make it a question that might cause you to reject the choice because it is not the answer you want or expect. Ask because you truly DO NOT know… It’s ok to NOT know.

About Marsha Egan, CPCU, CSP, PCC, ICF-Certified CoachMarsha Egan, is CEO of the Egan Group, Inc., Nantucket MA and an internationally recognized professional speaker. She is a leading authority on email productivity. Her acclaimed ?12 Step Program for E-Mail E-ddiction? received international attention, being featured on ABC Nightly News, Fox News, and newspapers across the globe. In early 2009, the program was adapted into a book, Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence (Acanthus 2009 - http://InboxDetox.com/book) Marsha works with forward-thinking organizations that want to create a profit-rich and productive email culture. Marsha was named one of Pennsylvania?s Top 50 Women in Business in 2006.
News Media Interview Contact
Name: Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC
Title: CEO
Group: InboxDetox.com, a division of The Egan Group, Inc.
Dateline: Nantucket, MA United States
Direct Phone: 610-777-3795
Main Phone: 877-749-4036
Cell Phone: 610-780-1640
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