I don’t know

As we start the new year, there’s something I’ve noticed amongst developers, particularly when talking to clients, that we need to watch out for. There can be a reluctance to say “I don’t know”, so I just want to say, to anyone reading this, sometimes it’s OK not to know.

I don’t mean telling someone “I don’t know, go away and leave me alone”, but I certainly don’t expect everyone to know everything. Sometimes you need to go and investigate, check some commit logs, or read some blog posts. Sometimes you need to dig out a debugger or a profiler and investigate, and sometimes, you’re not the right person to ask.

If you don’t know, say so, it will give you time to find out, or an opportunity to set up a task for yourself or someone else. There’s no shame in not knowing. The things we don’t know are the things we’ve yet to learn, the things that inspire us to keep going (and if they don’t, are you really a developer?)

So, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know, so long as you know what you’re going to say next.

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