The Power of Being Vulnerable

Build trust, strengthen relationships, and accomplish more by bringing your real self to meetings.

Diana Lillicrap 7.8.2021

Last night at my daughter’s softball game a young pitcher was really struggling. She walked batter after batter and with each throw I found myself feeling more compassionate and encouraging to her. I wanted her to strike someone out, even if it was my kid. Why? Because seeing someone struggle, stumble, or fail builds empathy.

This got me thinking about work because empathy is a key building block of all communications. With empathy we connect with one another. This is true for relationships with people and with brands. Seeing the real stuff (faults, silliness, quirky truths) makes someone more relatable and likeable. It’s powerful and it’s not that hard to do. It just takes a little courage and some simple structure. Here are a few ways to foster vulnerability:

Story Sharing

One way to really understand a person is through storytelling. Stories give us a means to relate to others and to imagine ourselves in a similar situation. At your next team meeting, kick things off by inviting each person to tell a quick story about themselves. Structure it around a topic, such as a time you felt strong, scared, or vulnerable, or around an event, such as a favorite holiday, trip, or moment in school.

Creative Titles

Another fun way to get people to share their real selves is to encourage a little creativity. At your next meeting, ask your fellow attendees to come up with a creative title for the day. Suggest that it be something that reflects their personality, background, or ambitions. When they share the title, have them explain the meaning. This peek into the person will make them more memorable and relatable.

Playful Voting

Build some fun and empathy into your next session by using a simple voting game. Ask a series 0f either/or questions and let people show where they align with each. For example, would you rather go on a beach vacation or an adventure vacation? Are you a night owl or morning lark? Do you prefer Country or Rock and Roll? Vary the types of questions and avoid anything too political. After a few minutes, your team will realize they have something more in common with just about everyone around the table (or in the Zoom) than they may have realized before.

Whatever you try, keep it fun and simple. Encouraging honesty and vulnerability at your next meeting, whether in-person or online, will go a long way to build team collaboration, strengthen the trust between each other, and help you accomplish more as a group.

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