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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 April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

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Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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