When we are new to a position or just starting a business there may be many things that we aren’t aware of – partially because we don’t know that we should have this information or that it is available to us. There’s such a thing as being so unfamiliar with something that we really don’t know what we should learn and know. This is where mentoring and asking questions about what is expected of us or what we really should be prepared to address comes into play.
However, this type of situation is also known as being unconsciously incompetent meaning that we really don’t know what we don’t know and aren’t willing to admit it. We aren’t aware of our shortcomings and just muddle through not being at all effective. The opposite of this condition is being unconsciously competent where we are so experienced and so prepared that we do well without even having to stop and think about it.
So, not having an answer ready when we are asked a question (or when we ask it of ourselves) may be acceptable – once and only once (the first time it comes up) – but it’s not really an excuse for not knowing, more of just the way things are. That is quickly remedied as we anticipate the answers we should have for our customers and we set out to learn them – in advance before those questions or objections are ever posed to us – and acquire the knowledge we need to be an effective resource for our customers.
This scenario has happened more times than it should – actually once is too many. Standing at the checkout or perusing the shelves at a major retailer when we see a display, special pricing sticker, or unadvertised promotion proclaiming a discount or special price in effect on a certain line of merchandise. We ask – when we can get someone to help us – if this is a permanent markdown, just for a limited time, or just for certain models of that brand. A typical response is that they don’t know and that we would need to ask someone in that department or check with the manufacturer. So helpful.
Shame on this person for not caring enough about their store to know the answer. Shame again for not trying to find out – so at least they’d be prepared for the next time that question was asked. Shame on management for letting this situation exist. There’s plenty of blame to go around – from the top down and from the bottom up. No one escapes this responsibility.
Imagine how impressed our customers and clients will be with us – and how inclined to work with us they might be – if we were not up to speed on the information we should have readily available to share with them. We don’t have to be experts in every aspect of what we are offering – this is why we have consultants and strategic partners. However, we have to project a degree of confidence that we have the information or know who does.
Funny how we can know the answers we need to because it’s just part of our business and what we feel is required to help our clients and customers, yet many businesses get a pass on this because we too easily accept their indifference of not being professional enough to learn what they should know.