Puzzle Post: Three Words You Should Never Say…?

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.


What three words should you never say?

Let me clarify: You should never say these three words in succession.

It’s been a while since I’ve made a puzzle post.

I put some lines of text here.

To try to create some space between the puzzle…

…and the answer.

So if you don’t want to bump into the answer…


…then scroll back up until you’re ready.



There is a little history to this puzzle. Let me describe this to provide a little extra space between the puzzle and the answer.

Maybe it will also provide a bit of a hint, if you want one.

When I was in junior high school, one of our teachers preached to us to never say these words.

Unfortunately, it was natural for us to say these words.

Quite often.

So we heard his admonishment regularly.

And it worked. I remember it today whenever I hear these three words.

It’s a very common expression.


Ready or not, here comes the answer.

Perhaps with a bit of irony.

If you felt that you couldn’t figure it out, you probably did.

Did you find yourself thinking, “I don’t know”?

If so, then by not knowing, you actually solved the puzzle.

The answer is: I don’t know.

Those are the three words you should never say.


Why should you never say, “I don’t know”?

Let me first explain what the answer isn’t. It doesn’t mean you should know the answer to every question. That would be impossible.

Sure, you should strive to be well-prepared so that you don’t find yourself thinking, “I don’t know,” when your credibility is at stake.

But the reason that you should never say, “I don’t know,” goes much deeper.

These are wasted words. I don’t know. If you don’t answer the question directly, it’s obvious that you don’t know.

It’s not helping the inquirer advance toward a solution.

Be resourceful. Think of ways to help. Consider how to go about finding the answer. This kind of thinking is productive. Thinking, “I don’t know,” isn’t productive.

Suppose you have a problem and you really need help finding the solution. But you’re pretty sure nobody you know has the answer. Who will you ask for help?

The kind of person who always has helpful advice, even when he or she doesn’t know the answer. That’s who.

Not the kind of person who instinctively answers, “I don’t know.”

It’s about credibility, branding your reputation, feeling self-confident, improving your resourcefulness.

These are all valuable skills. If you avoid those three words, “I don’t know,” it helps you build these valuable skills.


Do you enjoy puzzles?

I do. I love puzzles, especially math puzzles.

So it’s no surprise that I have a new book of math puzzles, the latest in my Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks.

It includes quite a variety, such as visual puzzles, prime numbers, the Fibonacci series, and much more. It starts out easy and the challenge grows steadily.

Available both in print and for Kindle. Cover designed by Melissa Stevens at theillustratedauthor.net.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


Click here to jump to the comments section.

Puzzle: Four-Letter Word for Contradiction


It’s been a while since I’ve made a puzzle post.

This puzzle is a four-letter word for contradiction.

No, it’s not one of those kinds of four-letter words.

Yuck! Now I have to wipe that foul language off my blog.

(Just teasing.)

Here comes a hint.

Believe it or not, the people below are all talking about the same thing:

John: I know exactly what I’m doing.

Ivan: Everyone knows you’re making the biggest mistake of your life except for you.

Jean: I made that mistake before, and I want you to benefit from my wisdom.

Geovanni: You’re doing the wrong thing, but sometimes we need to learn for ourselves.

Yohan: Maybe it’s not as bad as it seems after all.

Jonka: Don’t worry. It will all work out in the end.

In fact, these could all be the same person thinking about similar circumstances at different times.

Remember, we’re looking for a four-letter word for contradiction.

Spoiler alert.

Ready or not.

Here comes the answer.

It’s something we can all relate to. It’s called life.


















Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

What Do You Do When It’s Freezing Cold? (Riddle)

Polar Vortex

Misproject font by Misprinted Type (fontsquirrel.com and misprintedtype.com)

It has four letters, but it’s not a bad word.

It can get your mind off the weather and take you to another world.

It’s something to do all by yourself.

It’s fun for ages zero thru infinity.

It (probably) doesn’t require transportation.

It’s an activity that more people should do more often.

It’s about to be spoiled, so if you don’t want the answer yet, don’t look down.

It’s read and you should do it today. 🙂

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Photo Puzzle: What in the World Is This?

Puzzle Photo 2

I was browsing through a photo gallery and this caught my eye.

I knew what the foreground was, but the background didn’t seem familiar at first.

The reason I didn’t recognize the background initially was that it didn’t seem to be a logical match for the foreground object.

When I recognized the foreground object, I was thinking of all the possible places that it could have been, and the puzzling part was that this background didn’t seem possible.

SPOILER ALERT. I will soon say exactly what both the foreground and background are.

The foreground object is our new cat, which you may recognize from a previous post.

The background is the television. That’s why I didn’t recognize the background at first.

Once I realized that the cat was standing up in front of the t.v., I recognized the background image.

My daughter was playing a video game with her Nintendo Wii.

You see this image on the t.v. when the player is in the Mii settings.

The cat jumped up onto the entertainment center, stood up, and was pawing at one of the characters.

Naughty kitty, we have proof that you were up to no good.

At least, I didn’t have to hire a detective. 🙂

I expect you recognized the cat pretty quickly. You probably didn’t recognize the video game unless you’ve seen someone playing it before. If not, did you realize it was a t.v.?