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Have you ever been asked: “How much does a polar bear weigh?”

You’re hoping that the recipient isn’t a zoologist that knows that information, and when they say they don’t know, you can respond with “I don’t know either, but it’s enough to break the ice…” and then introduce yourself.

It’s ridiculous, but I always thought it was cute. In later life and while running my own business, it occurred to me that we often encounter questions to which we have no inkling of the answer and must muddle our way through.

I attended an interview and was asked what I thought was my greatest weakness, and that has always been my kryptonite question: the one I have no idea how to answer. Not because I don’t have any flaws, far from it, but because I don’t know how to rank them. So, I accidentally said to the interviewer, “Well, I have no idea how much a polar bear weighs.”

The interviewer was familiar with that question as it happens, and it led us into a fascinating conversation about what we perceive as weaknesses and why that question gets asked so frequently, ironically it was an excellent ice breaker. I don’t suggest using this response with people because it was a fluke that it worked, but many times I come across situations where I do not have the answer at that moment.

Overall, if I cannot trust my gut right away on a question, I’m asked, what has always served me well is the belief that it’s not about knowing the answer, but knowing where to go to get it, and having the courage to put your hand up and say “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” That has brought clients and customers back to me over and over again, straightforward honesty and respect, and in business, that’s the best investment, we can make ourselves.