People Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

It’s a simple principle – but oh so important to remember.

It’s a principle true in leadership and life.

People don’t know what they don’t know

It’s hard to hold an employee accountable for something they never knew.

You can’t expect your spouse to remember things you never told him or her.

It’s hard to be disappointed no one comforted you in your pain if they didn’t know you were hurting.

Your child can’t live up to a standard you never set.

People don’t know what they don’t know

If you want them to know -‘don’t assume they do -‘tell them.

Related Posts

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have you Subscribed via RSS yet? Don't miss a post!

6 thoughts on “People Don’t Know What They Don’t Know

  1. Therefore, if the other has not encountered the same experiences, successes, failures, people, or places as oneself, it is incorrect to assume they lack common sense, as common sense is not universal. Instead, it “rests in the eye of the beholder” (p64). Our society today represents more of a patchwork quilt, according to the authors. “From this perspective, the metaphor of a patchwork quilt unites many small understandings of common sense, many ‘petite localities’ or places of agreed-upon goods” (p65) All is not lost, however. The loss of common sense, invites learning of self, others and contexts (p65). You mention the following principal as being true in both leadership and life: “People don’t know what they don’t know”. As alluded to in your post, learning, at both speaker and audience levels, is a major aspect of this principle.

    Sara Kaderly

  2. Ron:
    This is a simple, but poignant post. This reminds me of a statement found in my reading for the week from the book Communication Ethics Literacy: “Common sense is not innate, nor is it common” (Arnett et al, 2009, p63). Frequently, people rattle off judgments on others, saying things like: “How can you not know that? It is common sense!” or “I can’t believe he doesn’t know how to use a smart phone. It is just common sense these days.” These types of declarations are inaccurate using the previously mentioned statement. One cannot assume that the other shares the same standpoint since “common sense is a by-product of what we know and what we practice” (p63).

  3. One of my professors during my college days repeatedly tells — "When you assume something, you are making 'ass' of 'u' and 'me'. " Though I it sounded harsh, I can understand the dangers when we assume something and do not communicate matters properly to others.