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Ignorance Phobia: Pretending You Understand

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ConfusedWhat is Ignorance Phobia?

You’re suffering from ignorance phobia during a conversation when you’re not clear about the other person is saying but you’re afraid to ask for clarification for fear of appearing ignorant. You pretend to understand when you don’t.When that occurs and you fail to get the message, everyone loses. And you may not be as good at hiding confusion as you think you are. So let’s take a closer look at this common communication conundrum.

Your Challenge

Think about the last time you pretended to know and didn’t and ask yourself:
  • Am I allowing my selfishness to defeat the purpose of communication?
  • What is my definition of fraudulent behavior? Does this act of deception qualify?
  • Am I lacking either self-confidence or courage needed to admit I don’t know all?


Let’s begin with a Key Assumption: In two-way communication, each person genuinely wants to get their message across. So asking for clarification is a form of respect for the other person’s point of view. As a receiver of the message, isn’t it your responsibility to assure that you have the clarity needed? If you’re now ready to stop this cowardly, dysfunctional communication sin, let’s go to work on…

Breaking Your Habit of Pretending to Know

Do you habitually pretend you understand? If you are willing to break that habit, you need to develop…
  • A new mindset to overcome the fear of asking and appearing less knowledgeable. Unless you can put your ego in check, how will you ever learn?
  • Improved skills for asking for clarification.
Then you need to practice your new behaviors until they become new, more productive habits.

Are You Inducing Ignorance Phobia in Others?

The more of a subject matter expert that you become the more likely that you will suffer from “The Curse of Knowledge” when discussing that subject. What is The Curse of Knowledge?

More on .


When it comes to becoming an effective communicator: Vulnerability is Underrated.

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