Did fear stop you from guessing?

Trigger Question #138 — reading time: about 2.1 minutes

. . .

What do you do when your boss asks you a tough question? Do you answer smoothly? Or do you hesitate:

  • (a) Because you don’t know the correct answer?
  • (b) Because you are too timid to say what you think?
  • (c) Because you don’t feel wise enough to hazard a guess?
  • (d) Or because you believe the answer is nobody’s business?

Let’s assume (d) does not apply, because this is happening at work. (Really, people, just stop asking personal questions at work.)

Often we hesitate to answer because we fear. This fear is understandable when we are young and inexperienced. But it makes less sense when we are older and wiser.

Believe it or not, every day you are older and wiser than yesterday. It is an automatic process. The problem is that we don’t always act our age or on our accumulated wisdom.

By now, if you are older than the Terrible Twos, you have a well of wisdom. You might prefer to call it intuition or gut-feel or luck. The fun fact is, the older and wiser you are, the more reliable your gut and intuition can be. Except if you don’t use it. Regularly.

The sooner you practice using your wisdom, the better you will hone it, the more reliable it will be, and the more you will trust it.

Now let’s get back to “difficult questions.” Some questions are best not answered with a guess. (Like crossing a busy street: “I guess it’s okay to cross.”) But many can be. The trick is to know when it is safe to risk a guess, one born of wisdom.

If you can’t answer a hard question immediately, but you have time to reflect, then by all means, say, “I will find out.” But then you must find out and report back as soon as possible. And feed the answer into your gut bucket, or your wisdom well, for future “gestimations.”

Eventually, if you keep practicing, you will become experienced enough to know when you can go with a hunch. And you will be wise enough to recognize when you are still too ignorant to hazard a guess.

The catch at work is that you must answer troublesome questions. Sometimes you can delay responding. But more often, you must speak up. And when you do speak up, protect yourself and your listeners by stating clearly when your answer is fact or opinion.

Remember, fear will keep you frozen, but a wise guess can get you going.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.