Get Comfortable With Vulnerability In Conversations by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

Once upon a time, leaders at any level were expected to have the solutions, know the answers, and be able to weather all issues with steely grit and fortitude. Today, leadership roles are less focused on this stereotypical attitude and more about creating deep, lasting relationships in teams and throughout workplaces.

Becoming vulnerable in personal and professional relationships starts with having conversations from the heart. This is not always easy and is a shift that is not always comfortable. Generally, people have a fear of being vulnerable as it poses the risk of being hurt. However, if you are not able to connect with people on your team or in your personal life on a deep emotional level, you will have challenges in building relationships.

Get in Touch with your Emotions

The first step to being able to be vulnerable is to recognize and acknowledge the emotions you experience. Many people are brought up in households that encourage the expression of positive emotions (happiness, joy, excitement, satisfaction) but discourage the display of other types of emotions (anger, frustration, embarrassment, anxiety, worry, fear, etc.).

Recognizing your own emotions and being able to express them in a way that is true to what you are feeling but that does not overwhelm those around you is critical. This is also part of being vulnerable, as you recognize that others may not have the same reaction as you do.

Taking the First Steps

Becoming vulnerable is something you can do over time and at your own comfort level. To get started in opening up to others, here are a few exercises you can try in your personal conversations and relationships as well as at work:

  • Share something about yourself – most people hold a lot of information about themselves back and keep it hidden. Talking about a time you made a mistake or failed makes you more vulnerable, but it also gives people around the space to talk more openly about their mistakes or failures.
  • Express an opinion – sharing an opinion you hold that is not the same as the rest of the team is a way to demonstrate vulnerability. Sharing a different point of view with respect to the views of others allows for greater discussion and possible solutions.
  • Doing something outside your comfort zone – taking on a role or a task that is not in your area of expertise creates a sense of vulnerability. It also allows you to learn from others and share a more meaningful learning experience throughout the company.

Sharing more and being open about your thoughts, emotions, and ideas creates vulnerability. It also develops personal and professional relationships that are based on mutual understanding and respect, which is an essential part of great relationships.