There is a lot of information in this world, so why are you afraid to admit you don’t know all of it? When I talk to a technician about a problem with a computer, I would much rather be told, “I don’t know but I will find out” than to be told a lie. Don’t make up an answer so that you won’t seem stupid. In the end it will probably turn out to make you look dumber that you really are. And worse, arrogant.
There is nothing wrong in taking a quiet pride in the things you know and are an expert at. Your job pays you for what you know. Your kids look up to you for what you know. But when you begin to make things up, you not only make your self look worse, but you take away the worth of those who do know. If a friend asks you if you have heard about a new movie coming out, instead of trying to puff up an bluff through it, why don’t you say, “No, I haven’t. Would you tell me about it?” Now you have not only let them feel like an expert but you have also shown an interest in what they are talking about. That will make them feel good to.
The above example about a movie is a fairly innocent one, but I have seen much worse. We all have encountered the salesman at the electronics show or car dealership who would like to have you believe that he is top dog and really knows his product. Now, what do you think of him, his product, and that store or dealership when you find out he he was wrong? That he totally made up what he told you? Most likely you will never go back there and you will tell others about the bad experience. On the other hand what would have happened if he had said, “hold on a second and let me find out for you?” He would have had your respect and you would have had the correct info.
So, next time you are tempted to claim knowledge of something you don’t know about; next time you are about to bluff your way through a situation, ask yourself this. What would happen if you just admitted your lack of knowledge and quickly followed up with the promise to find out the information or asked the questioner to fill you in. Most likely you will go up in their esteem.