Vulnerability as a strength – part two

I wanted to follow up on a previous blog post that wrote about vulnerability as it sparked a bit of interest on social media. A few people wanted to ask some questions so I thought it best to cover these off in a blog and some of the key benefits of allowing yourself to become vulnerable, in this instance in the work/career context.

  • Deepen relationships
  • Be your authentic self
  • Develop amazing skills for listening and communicating – and develop interpersonal skills to a new level
  • So how do you become aware that you have realised these benefits?
  • Deepening relationships

Perhaps colleagues that were resistant to change, or an activity or task, may become more willing to make the change, or the effort, or ‘extra mile’ that is required of them. You may find that colleagues, once they start to see the ‘real you’, will open up about personal issues in their life, which may be, or will affect the performance. I have had first-hand experience of this, and I felt honoured that the individual could share what was happening with her, as I understood more clearly what was driving her behaviours and guide her to the support that the company could offer her. It is very difficult to draw a line between stress at home and stress at work. This could result in a greater collaborative atmosphere in team meetings, greater enthusiasm and ideas.

If you want to be really certain – then ask! Some employees may feel uncomfortable about giving feedback but there are many mechanisms for providing confidential feedback.

Another question, I have asked is how do know if you are your authentic self, rather than inauthentic. Only you know what makes you tick. What drives you, what you value – if not a coach or mentor can help pull this out from you because very often it’s at the subconscious level. There may be a very acute, or rumbling, feeling of being uncomfortable – out of your depth- like an imposter. For most people, they will have a gut feeling about this – and this is fine. The key is to tune into it and seek the guidance and support you need to develop your skills or work through what that is about. Closing off, shutting people down, exhibiting wildly different behaviours can be signs that you are not being authentic because you cannot allow others to express themselves because of your own discomfort and need to control everything. Again – these are all behaviours I am sure we have witnessed, experienced and perhaps exhibited during our career – it’s learning from them and evolving as a leader that counts.

In terms of listening, communicating and interpersonal skills – again you can ask and use feedback mechanisms to find out if you are making progress. A coach or mentor will also allow you to probe and question those areas – and reflect back to you what they observe (no judgement it’s about learning and developing and none of us are perfect)

How do you determine you are developing amazing listening and communication skills rather than just good listening and communication skills? Also, take a look at how people are responding to you. Are they actively listening, and open to what you are saying as even bad news can be communicated effectively. Are you colleagues happy? Do they want to stay with the company? What are people saying at the water cooler?

Interpersonal skills can be learnt and honed but again this must relate to who you are as a person and how you like to communicate, not what you think you ‘should’ be doing… examples of key interpersonal skills include:

  • Learning to listen
  • Choosing your words carefully
  • Understanding why communication fails
  • Clarifying when issues occur
  • Empathising
  • Understanding stress
  • Negotiating

You will find that you build rapport and relationships with people, can make decisions, mutually resolving issues these are just some of the signs that you are building your interpersonal skills, or emotional intelligence quotient (EQ). This is not to say that seeking external validation of who you are is necessary, but our lives and careers go an awfully smoothly and comfortably if we rid our self-doubt and stress, embrace who we are and build on those qualities to good effect.

If you have any questions on this blog or wish to arrange a call then contact me at sarah@sarah-j.com to book your complimentary session.