Admitting Ignorance

I recently hired a driver through one of the guys whom I know. The driver is a 20 year old young chap who is very active and dedicated to his job. When I asked him about his skills, he admitted he is a very good driver and has been driving for a long time in the city. I asked him to get a copy of his license and he got me a crappy copy of it where I can’t even tell whether it was him in the picture. That’s fine. I was ok with it.

Now coming to his direction and knowing the city skills – here he acts a little shady. When I asked him, does he know the city well – he responded he knows it actually very well. But as I see him driving everyday, I am surprised with the amount of knowledge he has about the city. He doesn’t know anything about the city. He doesn’t even know that when a Traffic police takes down his number it means that in future he might have to pay some “chalan”(fine). But do you think he would admit it? Nope. He would front on me that he knows everything. He is ashamed to ask me the directions. I had to direct him everyday.

The problem for me is that not that he doesn’t know about the city and directions. But he is so not willing to acknowledge his ignorance for once and get over with it. Instead he chooses to go through the painful process of getting embarrassed every day in front of me. He probably thinks that I would get rid of him if I know about his ignorance, but him lying and fronting doesn’t help his case either. It’s actually annoying to me to deal with his lies and also show him the way.

I have seen similar kind of behavior pattern in Software field. Mostly people from Indian origin (Disclaimer: I am Indian). A lot of people who have dreams of going to USA and making it big actually come to US without much experience. There by they become what we call – “The google researcher”. No, they don’t work for Google, but they use google  for all their programming needs. These guys somehow get inside the company that they know a lot about whatever the client needs. Once in, they pretend and front to be experts. Which is probably ok – considering the amount of time, money and energy they spent to get there. But what shocks me is that when I reveal their ignorance – instead of admitting it they front and lie on my face.

The most difficult thing for an Indian is to say is – “I don’t know”. As if by saying that, he/she might cause a big pain to their erudite heritage of India. Instead of admitting and getting on, they lie and keep lying at every point of their ignorance. Once admitted, ignorance doesn’t last. If I admit my ignorance, I am creating a space for learning in that space. But nope – it’s too much to take for an inflated ego to admit his ignorance.

I have worked with a friend who was a poster child for this kind of case. I would see him struggle with Javascript every day. Every frigging day! He would ask my help and in case he senses that I am getting  little restless with his ignorance, he would go and ask someone else. But to our boss he would always say that he can fix things with Javascript. This would make my boss’s job easy, but my colleague’s life was awful. He would struggle every day. I was so pissed off by his behavior that I actually gave him an electronic version of my Javascript book. Not only that, I said we will do the learning simultaneously and finish off the book in 1 month.

You would think that would change his mind. No. He refused to take my help and struggled all the time I was working there. I actually pity him. Only for once, if he could admit his ignorance and create a learning space, he would master it so fast that he would never need to ask for help from anyone. I kinda had a feeling that he liked his pain or he is just plain old moron. Some how he validated his pain with something and was ok with it. The biggest road block he himself created for him was “Admitting his ignorance”.

2 thoughts on “Admitting Ignorance

  1. Pingback: Hesitation, Repetition and Irritation « akbar’s blog

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