I Don’t Know, I’ll Get Back to You
The 8 Words Everyone Should Know (and Use!)
“I don’t know, I’ll get back to you.” This simple sentence may not seem like much, but these are the most important eight words to learn in business. Too often, we’re pressured to give an answer or a commitment on the spot – and too often we do. Perhaps it comes from a fear of disappointing others or coming off as unknowledgeable, but being too quick to say yes can lead to huge problems. We may not even know what we’re committing to or if what’s being asked of us is possible. Next time you’re unsure about saying yes to something, say “I don’t know, I’ll get back to you.”
Let these magic words be your mantra. They prevent you from getting locked in to a project and give you time to gather more information. Giving yourself time to investigate has a much better chance of creating credibility than saying yes to everything. Plus, taking a little extra time will always be better than overpromising and under-delivering. Consult with your team first – you’ll gain credibility with them and your boss when you do deliver.
“I Don’t Know, I’ll Get Back to You” FAQ:
1. What if your boss needs the project in three weeks, and your team says it’s going to take six?
If you’re honest with everyone about what’s on the table, you can negotiate. It shouldn’t be a win/lose situation and you should be able to find a compromise. I like aggressive estimating just as much as the next leader, but not at the cost of quality. We should always be pushing ourselves, but if you try to cut corners, it costs more in the end.
2. What if you’re dealing with someone that’s pressuring you to say yes?
Just repeating the magic words “I don’t know, I’ll get back to you” tends to be helpful with insistent people. That said, you do actually have to get back to them at some point. It should be a strategy to buy more time, not a way to say no.
3. What If they’re really insistent and won’t take no for an answer?
Walk away from the table. If they’re being unreasonable, there’s not much you can do. Do the best you can with the project, support your team, and don’t promise something you can’t deliver. This is a great time to take the leadership role and choose to do it on a reasonable timeline. Nobody’s life is on the line if you’re making video games (or most other jobs).
Informed decisions are the best decisions, so buy yourself some time, investigate, and keep the credibility, quality, and budget of your projects intact. Let “I don’t know, I’ll get back to you” become your new favorite phrase. It’ll pay you back tenfold.