- I don't know
is a Power Phrase.
Joe kept trying to make it right and explain to Nancy why she shouldn't be upset. He guessed what was upsetting to Nancy without really listening to what she was telling him. He tried to pacify her in ways that were based on one assumption after another. Finally he gave up and said,
- I don't know what to do next.
That was the perfect next step. Finally he was open enough to listen to Nancy. Finally they were able to have a real and productive conversation that moved their understanding forward.
If you find your words aren't getting the response you're going for, ask yourself what you don't know. Just entertaining the question can take your attention to a litany of assumptions you didn't know you were making. The perfect next step is to go and find out.