I recently phoned one of the Australian big banks to enquire on some details regards my account. The person I was speaking to was pleasant but presented a less than confident image. How so? I asked a question to which she did not know the answer – her response was ‘I have not been trained in that area yet’. Whilst this is an honest response I was ‘left hanging’. I had to initate the option of perhaps she could find out … and sure enough she was able to provide an answer within a few minutes.

Whilst on hold I was thinking about why she didn’t take this or other more proactive course of action. Had it been me I’d have gone for the simple option of ‘could i place you on hold whilst i find out for you’ (it’s used by plenty of other organisations). I’d have thought that part of her training would have included strategies for dealing with situations in which she did not know the answer. This would have helped to complement her pleasant manner and the opportunity for a better (and more professional) experience.

I believe we’ll always encounter situations in which we do not know an appropriate response and that our training can provide effective strategies for how to manage these. Such situations also provide learning opportunities so that a person does not have to respond with a ‘I do not know’ the next time they face the same situation. And such learning can be leveraged when it is shared within a work team and / or wider organisation.

Next time you face a ‘do not know’ situation get creative and challenge yourself to think of the possible opportunities such a situation can generate.