Vulnerability is the New Black: How to Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve (Without Getting Stains on Your Shirt) at Work
“Hey Karin, I’ve read the research on being vulnerable, I’ve listened to Brenè Brown and all that stuff…I’ve watched some of your “Asking for a Friend” videos on authenticity. I believe it CONCEPTUALLY, but it’s NOT MY JAM. What should I do?” #AskingForaFriend (from Dijon France).
This came up in one of our leadership programs last week. One of our participants raised his hand and said almost exactly this. He disclosed his concerns about being vulnerable with his colleagues. He explained he is a very private person. And, he explained how he didn’t want to share about himself with his team or on social media platforms.
As he was sharing his concerns, he was building significant trust and connection with his team. And guess what? He was being VULNERABLE about not wanting to be VULNERABLE.
When we talk about being vulnerable, there aren’t parameters about what parts of our lives we have to share.
If deep personal disclosure is not your jam, there are still plenty of ways to show up real and build trust.
You can be vulnerable by sharing your thoughts, hopes, and fears about work without having to expose anything about your personal life or beliefs.
I talk a lot about being interested AND interesting when it comes to building your leadership brand. When you’re being interesting and sharing something that is unique to you, you don’t have to talk about what doesn’t feel comfortable. There are lots of ways to show up interesting, while you stay interested in others.
Practical Prompts for Being Vulnerable at Work
- Be honest about your comfort level. Let your team know that sharing your behind-the-scenes life feels uncomfortable and you don’t really like it.
- Engage your team about their hopes and fears related to the work you’re doing. And share your own hopes and fear about your work and organization.
- Talk about obstacles you’ve overcome in your career or things that didn’t come naturally to you that you had to work hard at.
As you share honestly with your team, you’re taking steps toward being vulnerable. True, someone might not agree with you. Yes, it’s possible they’ll see your weaknesses. But as you share openly about your work experience and goals, your colleagues will recognize you as human. And that is a HUGE step toward building trust and connection with the people you work with.
What would YOU add? What advice do you have for someone who wants trust and connection, but being vulnerable is not their jam?
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