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!!)
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?”
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.
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.
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