The key to connecting with people in a powerful way is to be vulnerable. Instead, in your efforts to remain distant and protected from scrutiny and maybe even judgement, you never divulge your real concerns or insecurities.
You wear the mask that says, “I’m great and my life is great”, even when it’s not. You dodge every personal question with a flippant quip. You avoid too much eye contact for fear of other people seeing too deep into your soul. You deny your feelings and cover up who you are and what’s really going on for you.
The bottom line is that you have a hard time connecting with other humans because you aren’t one yourself. I’m not saying that’s true. I’m asking you to stand in that possibility and see for yourself if it fits you and your life.
Being vulnerable doesn’t mean you should go around spilling your life stories to all and sundry. That’s cringeworthy, not vulnerability. I know people like that, and they are to be avoided at all costs in my opinion.
Being vulnerable means being honest about your feelings, and having the courage to talk about and/or display them now and then. “How’s the new role going?” Will you act stoic and proud, or will you confide that you’re not coping with the workload, and maybe even ask for their help?
Perhaps you’re worried you’ll come across as needy, self-centred or weak if you share your feelings. That’s a common agreement many people make to avoid being vulnerable. When in fact, like most of the agreements you make with yourself, it’s just a bullshit excuse.
Opening yourself up to others makes other people feel massively appreciated. Because in trusting them with your feelings and personal concerns, you are implicitly asserting their importance. You are saying, “I trust you and I value your opinion”. And that, as the psychologist John Dewey noted, taps into the deepest urge in human nature i.e. “the desire to be important.”
“Woah, he fully dropped his guard and showed me some of his scars by confiding in me. In ME … of all people.” That’s the subconscious message others get when you are vulnerable.
The afternoon part of my Big YOU workshop has a group of 25 work colleagues sitting in a circle talking about their feelings. The Head of HR who feels that she’s not good enough or deserving enough of her position. The young data guru who discloses his struggle with depression. And the reaction from everyone else in the room? 100% support and admiration, plus a new, human understanding of their boss and colleague.
It is precisely this moment of vulnerability that turns colleagues into human beings. That’s the power of Big YOU if you have the courage to drop the mask and put yourself out there. Be vulnerable!