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by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Networking, New Job, PromotionTagged as:

Have you ever been asked whether you had a particular skill, and struggled to answer when the answer is clearly in the negative?

While no one appreciates spin, there are a number of ways to answer, each with a unique nuance:

Answer: Yes: If you are part of the Fake it ’til you make it school of thought, go right ahead and answer “yes”. For everyone else, this is lying; when you are found out, your credibility takes a hit, you could be fired, or worse.

Answer: Some: This approach acknowledges that you have some experience in a related field, or at least some knowledge of the area. If this is your answer, then you must clarify what you mean with examples and evidence.

Answer: No: This direct approach speaks to your honesty and integrity. Yet, it is so absolute that it doesn’t acknowledge any of your complementary skills, ability to learn, or your future intentions.

Answer: Not Yet: In this approach, you acknowledge that you don’t have a particular skill, but provide evidence that you have the skills and the motivation to learn it.  Or, that you are already in process of acquiring the skill.

Of course, how you answer also depends both on the context and the strength of your relationship with the person asking the question. The better you know them, the more nuanced your answer can be. If they don’t know you well, the more nuanced your answer, the more it sounds like bad spin.


If you answered “Not Yet” to anyone during the last few weeks, commit to actually start the activity that will allow you to answer “Yes”. Not only will you feel better about completing your commitment, but you will be improving your value at the same time.  And if you answered “No”, then next time try “Not Yet”.

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