Remember the old advertising slogan, “Never let them see you sweat” that Dry Idea antiperspirant used to promote their brand in the 1980’s? It might have worked for Gillette to sell women health and beauty care products, but as business advice, I dare say it is utter BS. I’m not advocating we all take a crack at being some nail-biting, ‘Nervous Nelly’ who can’t hold her own way through a room, but I’m also not going to tell you that being the Ice Princess will get you a Fast Pass to the boardroom anytime soon.
Believe it or not, a little vulnerability can be a valuable skill to have and one that, used with sincerity, is an amazing bridge builder. It will open more doors and close more business deals than most any other skills. It allows you to connect with others on a personal level and share a bond of common experience or emotion. When you open up and allow yourself to expose your thoughts and feelings, you are able to make connections on a deeply personal level. Those bonds — business or personal — once forged, are hard to break.
“You would be hard-pressed to show me any evidence of any innovation or creativity that was not birthed from vulnerability.” –Brene Brown
Being able to be vulnerable is about being able to openly voice big ideas, honest feedback and constructive criticism. It speaks volumes when you can open up and “put it all out there,” knowing that it isn’t always going to be well received. Being vulnerable is about sharing your own flaws and shortcomings with those you are mentoring … the clients you are selling … so that they know you aren’t perfect and can successfully navigate failure.
Sharing your vulnerabilities allows you to build credibility and earns you trust and respect with your peers. Being vulnerable will differentiate you from others. It takes courage to be vulnerable. To be the one who can take a hard stand on the risky topics others want to steer clear of. The shrinking violet is the one who will shy away from the challenges in a relationship; the vulnerable person is the strong one who finds the voice to use past experiences to courageously navigate to new, better tomorrows.
By being vulnerable, you become authentic. You are the one who gives everyone else permission to be authentic too. That spark of reality ignites a fire of honesty and innovation that can burn like a wildfire of energy in your meetings and relationships. When it becomes ok to share what hasn’t worked, admit you don’t have all the answers or simply voice that you think an idea or program is bad, real dialogue begins and solutions are born. Vulnerability is the spark that starts the process. Trust me, you can vulnerable.
Being vulnerable with others clearly says you are real, trustworthy and capable of rising above challenges and disappointments until you achieve success. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of many more skills I value more in my relationships — business or personal!