Thursday, December 15, 2005

Pet Peeve: People Pretending to Know Stuff

I came in to work today to find my boss frustrated by an IBM tech. We use IBM servers and employ their warranty coverage. One of our clients had a parity error on the motherboard (the system said so, isn't that nice?). That really can mean two things: bad memory chips or an actual motherboard failure. The solution is easy... replace memory or replace the motherboard, in that order.

Well, the IBM tech insisted that we "flash the BIOS" first... like that would help. We've been there before, upgrading BIOS firmware on random parts, just to prove that the problem was really hardware failure, and my boss has to do it now. It frustrated him because the IBM tech (IBM! You'd expect better!) doesn't know what he's talking about and just can't be bother to do his job.

What happened to people, that even on the job the regular Joe pretends to know more than he does? Is there some inherent danger to admiting you cannot do something or do not know something? What happened to, "I don't know, let me find out" or "I am not able to, but let me get someone who can"???

this is an audio post - click to play

Just a note... in my book, anyway, it is always O.K. to tell me, "I don't know" or "I'm sorry, I am not able to". If the person saying "sorry" is in a service business (oh, say, customer support, waitressing, media, clergy...), I do expect to hear "but I'll find out" or "let me try to find you someone who can".

Hey, I tell people all the time that I don't know stuff. I have to get back to them with the answer, or pass them on to someone who should be able to help... it's O.K.


  1. OK, then I feel safe admitting I don't know what the heck you were talking about in the first couple paragraphs of that post! :o) But I TOTALLY agree with you - I'd rather have someone tell me they don't know than ACT like they do know. Sheesh!

  2. Yup, me, too. It happens to me with Bible questions and computer questions, but nobody objects to, "I don't know" or "I don't remember" followed by "but I'll get back to you with that." If only people would just be more honest, we could praise them for who they are rather than what they say they can do.

  3. Give it time! You tend to lob me softballs!