Vulnerability Creates Connection. Time to Let Down Your Guard?

by | Apr 6, 2018

Be strong by showing weakness- how vulnerability creates connection

People fear that showing their flaws to the world will lead to scorn and derision, but vulnerability creates connection and strength.

Most people have a flawed assumption that their challenges at work and home are so unique that no one else could ever understand. Sure, maybe they’d sympathize but empathize? No way. As a result, they push down their worries, fears, concerns, hopes, dreams, and insights as if it’s their secret burden to bear. Sound familiar?

We never talk to each other about the things that are keeping us up at night, and then tell ourselves we’re alone. 

Vulnerability creates connection

In our minds, we convince ourselves that our situations are different, worse, better than everyone else. We isolate ourselves by choice for fear that we’re right and everyone is going to judge us. However, when we finally open up, something remarkable happens, we discover we’re not alone after all. 

Just last week a friend shared some of her concerns about her child over lunch. “I can’t believe I’m telling you this especially when it probably isn’t normal,” she said. That’s when the unexpected news came her way… everyone else had been through something similar. We were all nodding because it mirrored our experience too. We discovered at that moment that our children were not flawed beings but simply human beings. 

It’s funny how many people fear being vulnerable no matter how times we hear about the power of vulnerability. Why is that? Why do we read the books and watch the TED Talk yet still only show the world that we have our shit together? We’re on the right track. Have the answers. We’re successful, happy and well-adjusted. We got it going on. 

Do you take other people’s opinions too much to heart? It can be hard to let things go, but it makes for a happier life. 3Plus can help you with our Returner Roll-Up session on Developing Resilience.

It can be terrifying to go first

Will you share your most vulnerable self only to have everyone blankly stare at you and say, “No. I can’t relate at all”? Unlikely. Still, it takes a moment of bravery to be the one who’s willing to take the risk and share their truth. 

Vulnerability takes strength and courage

When you share your vulnerability with others, it’s courageous. It’s inspiring. It’s what the world needs – people who are unafraid to live a life that’s not bound by constantly projecting the illusion of perfection. Let it be you who leads the way.

Instead of pretending your life is worry-free, will you lead the way with vulnerability?

 Stress and worry are universal

We live in a world of worriers. No, worry alone can’t change outcomes but it does wear you down. You begin to feel like Atlas bearing the weight of the world. In your sphere of worry, you become so fixated on the weight that you miss opportunities to lighten your load. 

Vulnerability creates connection

Like my friend who shared her truth, she discovered connection and support, and it’s there for you too. No one can empathize or connect with perfection; it only serves to make others go deeper into their own shells, hiding the parts that cause them pain, joy, and fear. Parts of themselves that you know all too well. 

Vulnerability isn’t a liability. It’s the way humans create connection.

 Start small

You don’t have to get up in front of an auditorium, or at the next team meeting, and pour your heart out. Grab a coffee with one other person and let your guard down. Say what you’re afraid to say out loud because if you do, then it’s true. 

Give your brain a break

Your brain’s job is to keep you safe, but it doesn’t always make the best choices for you. Your brain may tell you that you really are alone, your issues are extreme, people will scrutinize you and even worse, dismiss you. Not true. You need to make the leap, despite the fear response. 

If you don’t want to say it, write it

Looking eye to eye with someone can be enough to make you want to stay quiet, keeping your less than perfect bits and doubts to yourself. However, there are people out there longing to hear what you have to share. Write it in a note, a blog, email, or by hand. It doesn’t matter. Sometimes the words you need to say flow better from your head to your fingers than to your lips. 

We all spend so much time thinking about our own lives and circumstances that we miss the opportunity to connect with people who are going through the same. We need to support each other, not isolate ourselves.

What about you? How has vulnerability changed your life? … or are you still hiding?

Connecting with people professionally can seem intimidating, particularly after a career break. Our Returner Roll-Up session will help you with Getting Back on the Networking Horse.

Alli Polin Subscriber
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Alli Polin, CPCC, ACC, is a former senior executive with deep experience in leadership, change management, and organization development. Now a writer, coach, and speaker, she is driven to help people create a full life and achieve professional success. She has an award-winning blog, Break the Frame, writing on the intersection of life and leadership.
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