When showcasing one’s vulnerable side, many professionals in the workplace would prefer not to step out of their comfort zone. They are content with themselves and find no need to take risks by emotionally exposing themselves to their coworkers, managers, clients, vendors, and so on. They are happy with the way they communicate and comfortable with the manner of which they cultivate lasting relationships and that’s that.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” ~ Brenè Brown
And rightly so. When you show vulnerability, you’re taking a chance by putting yourself out there for all to judge. You’re genuine and authentic, which can lead to rejection, embarrassment, shame, fear, grief, or other uncomfortable emotions. And who wants to risk feeling demoralized?
Think again. Yes, vulnerability can be uncomfortable, but with practice and purpose, you can communicate in such a way that allows you to showcase a close, personal side of yourself while exuding confidence, courage, and trust.
If you find yourself shying away from vulnerability, consider the opposite: embrace vulnerability. It is a strength and one that will deliver benefits. Showing a vulnerable side of yourself fosters connections and enables you to live a more fulfilled life both professionally and personally. Here are a handful of rewards you will reap when you choose to be open with your emotions.
When you share a personal side of yourself, you also show others you are approachable, you are “real.” Camaraderie builds trust, confidence, and engagement, and it develops relationships. When you express feelings in an authentic manner with coworkers and teams, you’ll exhibit a strong leadership style that says, “We can meet challenges and overcome them – together.”
When you share an emotional side of yourself with poise and grace, you allow your vulnerability to shine with confidence. This is not always easy. Often, fear will override emotions and hold us back from sharing true feelings. Don’t let fear rule. One of the many attractive components of vulnerability is shedding your professional “skin” and letting others see a more personal you. Additionally, confidence breeds positivity, mindfulness, and motivation, which are all terrific character traits.
The beauty of vulnerability is empathy. When we allow others to “see” us, we invite them to walk in our shoes, to feel what we feel, to see what we see, to hear what we hear. Empathy allows us to better understand people. We may not always agree with what he or she has to say, but when we wear our empathy hat, we can understand their point of view without judgment. Empathy leads to stronger relationships and productivity. Vulnerability forges empathy, and empathy is a much-needed practice in the workplace and beyond.
We all hope to be brave or courageous, to do the right thing at the right time. When you are vulnerable, you exude bravery. For example, standing in front of a group of coworkers you don’t know well and sharing something personal is a vulnerable act. You’re exposing yourself and may feel a variety of mixed emotions. Moreover, standing up for another at work when he or she is blamed for something they did not do is engaging in courageous, vulnerable action and the right thing to do.
The more vulnerable you allow yourself to become, the more resilience you will develop. In other words, vulnerability and resiliency work hand in hand. With resiliency, when you commit to a long-term goal and experience a setback or failure, you will likely try again. Perhaps you will use a completely different approach or maybe you will make only minor changes. Whatever the case, you put yourself out there and give it another go (the power of vulnerability and resiliency). When you believe in yourself and have the skills and passion to meet your goal, it’s vulnerability and resiliency that will help you achieve it.
It can take years until we know our true selves and what makes us tick – our weaknesses, strengths, and, yes, even our emotions. With self-awareness, we open ourselves to vulnerability, because we are confident in our skills and recognize areas that are not as strong. For instance, while in a team meeting, you and others divide project responsibilities. You possess excellent organizational skills but recognize your client relations, analytical, and delegating skills are not as strong. You share your feelings with the team and volunteer to keep the project moving along on an administrative level by overseeing deadlines, keeping the team updated with project reports, invoicing, etc. Vulnerability can help strengthen your self-awareness, which can lead to career growth.
About the Author: Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs is an empowering professional development consultant, dynamic motivational speaker, and author. Highly dedicated and results-oriented, she has the skill and passion for helping individuals become more confident and successful in business and beyond. She and her company Polished help clients focus on key adjustments that result in meaningful impact and effectiveness.
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