In an incident that happened recently, I entered the lift into my apartment and there were 2 kids inside, conversing and apparently seemed to be returning from school (and I also happened to know one of them), the conversation that brewed between them got my attention, where one of the questions of the 6th Grader to the 8th Grader was “Can I come to your house after half an hour” to which the 8th Grader replied “I don’t know”, (probably a polite way of saying “No”, not that I endorse this style), nevertheless the 6th Grader nonchalantly continued as if that reply made complete sense and understanding and they spoke few more things as they both exited.
I couldn’t help but smirk at today’s kids and their “I don’t know” for the many things we ask them, even making a smug remark to my wife to this effect. The more I observed, the more common it was as a conversational piece amongst teenagers (No, not eve’s dropping but as a passer-by’s interest).
Since decision making has been an area of interest since my sailing days, the more I delved on it in the coming days, the smirk changed into a kind of epiphany for me, where, the kind of questions that I was currently grappling with including change of direction of my business, exploring new opportunities versus building what I have, investment options, personal issues etc. etc. and where many of those decisions was also time-bound in a way which required me to say “yes” or “no” and the “I don’t know” was a great stress reliever and fitted my situation perfectly at that point in time, cause even with all the information that I had available, I simply wasn’t able to make a choice due to whatever bug was playing in mind and the uneasy feeling of taking either decision wasn’t appealing to me.
In a way, I was humbled by these 2 children who taught me a thing or two about decision making, which I usually pride myself over. Anyways, I found out that, research says in some situations “stalling for time” has improved the quality of decision making and follow-through-action.
I now think, saying “I don’t know” may be the right or better decision for that moment and we need to become comfortable dealing with such replies and also saying it ourselves, especially when one isn’t clear about their decision. Rather than plunging into a choice and later regretting or struggling with sunken fallacies and what not, that although this may not be the perfect decision (in the long term) but for the moment it may just be the right thing to do or to say “I don’t know”.
PS: I’m wondering, how the next sales guy I meet on the road or outside the mall will take it when he presents me with something to buy and I say “I don’t know” 🙂