When it comes to our brains, black is white and up is down. Any time we try to achieve a desired result, we end up doing the opposite. Such is the case with trying to be smart. We like to come off as intelligent, and so we often act like we know more than we do to achieve that effect. In reality, however, saying "I don't know" can be a whole lot smarter.
Photo by Suzanne Tucker (Shutterstock).
Aside from the obvious downside of people finding out that you don't really know as much as your purport, CD Baby founder Derek Sivers explains another advantage of just being honest:
Being stupid means avoiding thinking by jumping to conclusions. Jumping to a conclusion is like quitting a game: you lose by default. That's why saying "I don't know" is usually smart, because it's refusing to jump to a conclusion.
On top of that, not knowing something is rarely a downside. It gives you a chance to learn something new, and people love to share knowledge because it makes them feel important. Even when you think you know the answer, don't be afraid to ask for more information or listen to someone else's opinion. There's always an opportunity to learn.
Smart people don't think others are stupid [Derek Sivers]