At some point in our careers we all feel like a new puppy. It’s exciting and there’s so much to learn, but you aren’t yet feeling like a big dog. Maybe little Brisket here can get away with her cute looks and playful attitude. However, it’s a bit harder to rely on that in the workplace.
When you are in a new job, it is easy to feel the pressure to be good at your work. But what about when you don’t know all the answers? To be fair, there were plenty of times I didn’t know the answer in a job I’d been doing for decades!
So, here you are and you don’t know the answer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone (especially young women, sorry to stereotype) get intimidated, act nervous, and pass on the opportunity to solve the problem. Guess what? There’s a good chance even if you don’t know the answer you can find it if it’s not urgent. This is when to employ the vague and happy technique.
The art of vague and happy
This isn’t a dingy approach, but one that displays your confidence in your ability to problem solve. How? Ask questions to clarify the problem. Don’t get too specific about possible solutions. Let the other person know you will dig into it and get back to them. And, most importantly, do it with a confident tone and smile on your face. When you show the person you have it covered they will have confidence in you.
Rules for being vague and happy:
- You need to find the answer and circle back to that person in a timely manner.
- If you can’t you need to communicate to them that you weren’t able to help them and connect them with someone who can.
- Don’t practice this method when someone is sitting on the surgical table in front of you in a life or death situation.
The beauty of knowing yourself and having the skills to get ‘er done is you can enjoy the moments when you just want to be a playful puppy, but you know you can run with the big dogs.
Want more career advice for your 20’s? Check out this post about being managed vs. led.