It's not at all difficult for me to just say that I don't know. I'm secure and perfectly comfortable just saying, "I don't know". Of course, if it's in a work setting where one would be expected to know there should also be, "...but I'll find out" or "...but I'll refer to x who is better able to answer your question".
Then, too, in a personal situation there can be things like, "I don't know, but I tend to think..." or "I don't know for sure, but from what I've heard..". (That type of thing). I don't think there's anything wrong with saying, "I don't know for sure, but I think, maybe....". That lets the other person know you're making it clear that you don't really know but are trying to be helpful. As long as there's an "I don't know" clearly in the mix, the person hearing it knows where s/he stands with regard to whether he could/should trust your reply.
Where it gets bad is when people whip up anything as a reply to a question when they know they don't really know for sure but don't want to just say that they don't (or, I suppose in the case of some people with poor communications skills, essentially aren't careful enough about their choice of wording).
What's equally "bad" (or maybe worse) can be the conscientious, caring, person who clearly tries to be honest but doesn't know that s/he doesn't know something. I think of the line from "Colors of the Wind"," when Pocahontas points out (essentially) that just because people are different from us that doesn't mean they aren't people, or are less than people (or us). The line essentially tells people to try to see things from someone else's perspective/place in the world; and "....learn things you never knew you never knew".
What you really don't want is anyone who "never knew he never knew" to pipe up with answers, not because he finds it hard to say "I don't know", but because he truly thinks he "knows" and can't imagine that there may things he "never knew he never knew".
Some people are too insecure to say they don't know. Some are too (and inappropriately) secure in their believe that they do know. Some just won't give someone else the satisfaction of admitting that they don't know about one thing or another.
The older I get the less I know; thus, it is becoming significantly easy for me to say, "I don't know."
If someone expects me to know the answer (like at work) then I do find it hard to say that I don't know because I feel like I should.
Outside of work though I don't have a problem saying I don't know. It's better than pretending to know about something and then being totally wrong!
Basically, my brain is almost empty. So i don't know is a common phrase i always say
I actually find it quite easy. I'm very comfortable with the obvious fact that no one can know everything in the world.
On a self-conscious level, when it comes to easy yes-or-no questions with answers that are factual or require research to give an informed opinion on, I'd much rather say a simple "I don't know" then play know-it-all and be proved wrong later. If it's something I *should* know, I tend to jokingly or thoughtfully acknowledge that fact to downplay the awkwardness. For example, "Hmm, you'd think I'd know the answer to that! Guess I need to brush up on the topic." Or, "I'm sorry, the information has totally slipped my mind! One of those days, you know?"
When it comes to far more general questions or personal matters such as those about my emotions or faith or God's workings or war and so on, again I'll often choose, "I don't know." I'm more than okay with acknowledging that there are just some things in the world that I don't know for fact. In fact, I firmly believe that's how it should be.
Not at all, if I don't know something, I simply say I don't know. Not really a big deal or crime not to know somethings. Nobody knows everything.
Only if I feel it's something I (should) know!
Seriously I've never had a problem admitting I didn't know something. I would hate to give anyone misinformation.
I do, personally, try to provide some kind of answer, even when I don't have one readily available. Part of that is my personality, and part of it is that people don't really accept 'I don't know' as an answer.
Shrug -- I have never had anyone ever ask me that particular question before, so all I can say is "I don't know".
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