“Never let them see you sweat.” It’s a common phrase, but what happens when that mentality creates tension in your work environment? Being vulnerable is crucial for both personal and professional workplace success because it fosters connections with others. Embrace vulnerability despite your intention to be appear strong. As the renowned researcher and storyteller Brené Brown explains, “Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.”
Whom we make these connections with is equally as important as the connection itself. When it comes to careers, women are statistically more career driven despite certain odds and glass ceilings. Being vulnerable with others creates relativity and helps to reduce and loneliness. Vulnerability provides a path for mental and emotional growth, as sharing our feelings leaves room for open dialogue and commonality.
We often limit vulnerability for the sake of protecting our reputation and the regard as the “strong” one. We are accustomed to the notion that vulnerability is perceived as weak. It is okay to embrace your sensitivity because it reveals an inner strength that would otherwise not be possible and leaves room for more open conversations. Society often praises individuals for having a “tough shell” or “thick skin”, leading us to feel that vulnerability promotes growth. On the contrary, the more people reveal themselves to others, the more people can relate and find support for whatever they are going through. Although vulnerability is often viewed in a negative light, methods such as connecting vulnerability to your vision and purpose along with the courage to express your values are what shape outer strength and inner peace.
The Harvard Business Review mandates that companies create a safe setting (i.e. coaching, mentorship, peer support groups) in the workplace to increase women’s willingness to share individual experiences more openly. The goal of these safer settings is to offer a space to provide feedback and emotional support for each other. Unresolved emotions are often left on the table, creating tensions in both professional and personal relationships. Safer workplace settings allow women to have discussions about sensitive topics including gender bias, double standards, harassment without judgment. Embrace vulnerability as a tool to support staff and colleagues while promoting a healthy working environment.
According to INC.com, showing vulnerability in the workplace allowed one CEO to better understand their employees on a deeper level. The CEO’s openness with his team helped peers feel important and valued by having an honest dialogue. Therefore, vulnerability requires both employers and employees to be self-aware in order to foster a collaborative environment and promote positive company culture.
There are certainly many benefits of vulnerability. As Brené Brown unpacked in her new Netflix documentary, The Call to Courage, the workplace is where vulnerability births many values including empathy, inclusivity, equity, feedback, and ethical decision making. Vulnerability also allows for creativity in sharing diverse ideas. The best-selling author also states, “If you’re not willing to build a vulnerable culture, you can’t create.”
Vulnerability allows us to experience a connection with others but first establish a connection with yourself. Voicing your thoughts openly might make you uneasy, but developing that awareness and inviting your emotions to the forefront rids the myths of emotional numbing. Own your truth to avoid feeling shame, doubt and uncertainty. Brené Brown stated, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
Embrace vulnerability just a bit to build your inner peace and start or strengthen the path of knowing who you are. In doing so, you leave room for feedback, opportunity, and growth.