“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” – Derek Bok
I Don’t Know is a strong term in our language.
It’s capable of conveying frustration, ignorance (chosen or otherwise), or pure wonder and curiosity.
In the workplace, “I don’t know” can get you fired if it is said too often. The better form is as a precursor to, “…but I’ll find out.”
There’s nothing wrong with admitting you don’t know something. But there is definitely something wrong with admitting you don’t know something and you don’t care to learn the answer.
There’s nothing employers dislike more than an employee who isn’t willing to learn, grow, or advance. Unless, you know, you work in retail.
Using I Don’t Know as an excuse to fail is a sure way to get fired. Using it as an excuse to learn, though… that’s what earns promotions, makes discoveries and new products, and entertains the masses.
EDIT: 4/18/2009: My friend Tim had a wonderful addition to this (which I plan to make another post on) but, claiming you know something when really, you have no friggin’ idea is just as destructive to your career path as refusing to learn anything new. Thanks Tim!