What is Vulnerability?
My definition of vulnerability is sharing something with another human being that feels scary but true. When you do so, you’re putting your heart on the line, taking a risk that they may reject or hurt you. You could be sharing with one person or many.
Why Would You Want to Be Vulnerable?
You may be thinking, “I’ve spent a lot of effort trying to feel safe and protected so others can’t hurt me. Why would I change that?” I can see your point. Who wants to purposely feel scared?
There is a PAYOFF to being vulnerable, though, or no one would do it. The payoff is authentic connection and relationship which translates to more effective impact as a leader.
Have you ever witnessed someone share something very vulnerable and it brought you to tears? How did you feel about them? Did you feel a special bond with them? Sharing your vulnerable truth with another creates connection and closeness.
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Vulnerability is Brave
Avoid sharing in order to shock others. Vulnerable sharing is meant to invite closeness, not make others feel awkward. Having said that, there is always an exception. You may make someone uncomfortable if they are particularly uneasy about their own feelings. You don’t control that though, and so don’t worry too much about it.
Vulnerability is Different for Everyone
What is scary for you?
The Power of Vulnerability in Leadership
I think of this guy my husband, Steve, has worked closely with for almost a year (his assigned company mentor as well), and he rarely shares anything about his personal life. Steve is naturally very sociable, and so this lack of connection has bothered him.
My own dad also keeps everything close to the vest. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be a private person. What I am saying is that if you withhold your private, sincere thoughts and feelings from most people around you, that you’re probably going to feel lonely and disconnected.
If you will consider expanding your trust of others even 5%, this could shift your life for the better. You’ll have more impact as a leader when others trust you.
Others will be more likely to open up to you and collaborate, innovate and problem solve if you bring an open, inviting “welcome mat” kind of energy to the relationship.
What Causes One to Fear Vulnerability?
Further, if you’ve had trauma in your background, whether you’re conscious of it or not, this creates an instinctive habit to protect yourself in order to survive. Creating a connection with others, though you really want it on some level, will feel out of reach and unsafe.
How To Bring Forth More Vulnerability
You can still temper your direct approach of relating and leading with some “soft edges.” Become aware of how you come off to people. If you’re not inviting authentic connection, do you have any desire to? If not, you probably stopped reading this blog at the title.
If you DO want to increase your connection and joy in a relationship, then get curious about the people around you. Ask them about themselves. Sincerely compliment them.
If you’re dealing with trauma and you suspect that’s why you have a hard time relating to others and being vulnerable, then consider getting some coaching or therapy. I’d be happy to talk to you and explore the next step.
Vulnerably sharing your thoughts and feelings is an act of courage that will invite closeness and connection with others. Authentically sharing something that scares you a bit will draw others to trust you more. Trust is crucial when leading a team or a personal household or even yourself.
You may have a certain type of personality or a background of trauma that makes being vulnerable more challenging. Take a look at your desire. How much do you want to overcome the fear of connection and vulnerability? It’s OK to be where you’re at. No shame or judgment here.
There are things you can do to become more trusting of others, such as coaching or counseling. As a coach, I prefer coaching as it tends to be more forward-focused and empowering. If you’d like to explore this type of relationship with me, I’m opening up 5 slots this month. Chat with me now.