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How Can Vulnerability Lead to Success?

How Can Vulnerability Lead to Success?

How often do we open up to those around us?

Do we do it on a first date? Heck no. That person is nothing like the slob we really are. It will be at least a few months before the unsuspecting person across the table discovers that you are the kind of person who never puts the new roll of toilet paper into the toilet paper holder. You monster.

How about at a job interview? Double heck no. You are a high achieving go-getter who wants nothing else but to be the best employee ever and you are going to stay this way until at least you qualify for full benefits and vacation pay.

What about on Facebook and other social media? Are you kidding me? Reveal our true selves on there? Isn’t Facebook meant to help make your friends jealous of the types of food you are eating and the awesome places you take a vacation?

How much of your life is really an illusion?

Your façade of lies is carefully plastered all over your ugly truths like a baseball cap covering a bald spot. A bald spot everyone already probably knows about yet one we still feel the need to pretend doesn’t exist.(In fact, we all have these bald spots!!)

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Why do we hide behind these false fronts? The answer is pretty simple. It’s our human nature. We tend to feel the need to present these idealized versions of ourselves because we think that if people find out about our true selves, they will go running for the hills.

The ironic thing is that…

Vulnerability is the key to success.

In 1997, a social psychologist named Arthur Aron and his research team performed a study that helped to demonstrate the strong connection between vulnerability and deeper connection.

They paired together students who were strangers to each other and had them spend 45 minutes together asking questions that they were given. Half of the students were given typical small talk questions such as “favorite television show” or “favorite time of day”. The other half’s questions started off shallow but then gradually got deeper and more probing. These participants were asked to share with each other very self-disclosing questions such as the “last time they cried in front of someone?” or “which family member’s death would you find most disturbing?”

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The Results:

When asked to rate how close they now felt to their partner after the 45 minute interview, the second group was found to have formed much deeper bonds. In fact, some of these newly formed bonds were actually rated as just as intense as what students from another study rated the closest person in their life as. In just 45 minutes, some of these students ended up forming a bond on par with that of a lifelong friendship.

It was not because they revealed some idealized version of themselves. Instead, it was because they were forced to dig deeper and reveal their more vulnerable side. Two of the participants even wound up becoming engaged after the study was over!

Research supports vulnerability leading to success

Opening up helps you connect to others and not just in a romantic or emotional sense. Sharing your vulnerabilities can actually help you achieve better success in all facets of your life, including your career.

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In recent research from NewsletterBreeze, Javier Sarda analyzed the effects of opening up and displaying vulnerability in a blog post.  Javier decided to compare the number of shares and comments that a post in which the author displayed vulnerability to other posts where the author just delivered value and actionable tips.  He discovered that posts with vulnerability had many more shares and comments than the other types of posts.

In his newsletter, entrepreneur Tim Ferris decided to open up about his thoughts on suicide and his own struggles with depression. Well admitting to such dark thoughts would seem counterintuitive, the post ended up connecting with his readers on a much deeper level. In just two weeks it garnered almost 10,000 more “likes” than his previous posts and had ten times as many comments.

Derek Halpern, the person behind Social Triggers, also found out how opening up can help to connect with his subscribers. In one revealing post, he opens up about his troubled childhood surrounded by drug abuse and alcoholism. It is a story that reveals a very different side of this successful entrepreneur and one that actually makes you like him even more. It is also a post that helped to increase his overall exposure with 4 times the shares of an average post.

Take action today

While you still might want to hold back on something on your first date or at that job interview, showing off that vulnerable side is not really a disaster in the making that you think it is. In fact, opening up and revealing that you are just as human as everybody else can be very rewarding.

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It can help connect with those around you on a much deeper level. This can lead to more sharing and more trust. You might find yourself forming an even stronger bond with the people that you share your life with that can help yield positive results in the near and far future.

Featured photo credit: How being vulnerable can lead to success via google.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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