The Dilemma of Vulnerability: How Safe It Is to Share It in a Business Environment
I get asked all the time: “Debora is it safe to be vulnerable and share my story? Will it diminish my credibility?” Vulnerability is one of the most potent ways to connect to your audience deeply. I want to make a distinction though. Vulnerability is not about sharing your story only, but about how you share it and how much or little you refer to the emotions and feelings involved in the story.
You could share a story as a series of cold facts or a chronicle that has nothing to do with vulnerability. Vulnerability is a more in-depth way of sharing stories, a combination of challenges and struggles someone has faced in their life. People, especially people in business, believe that sharing vulnerability is weak and can diminish their authority and credibility. The opposite is true.
Being vulnerable, sharing your stories, struggles, and challenges are genuinely empowering for yourself and the readers and a real act of courage. When you can see someone’s vulnerability, you instantly build a deeper connection to them, first of all, because you start seeing them as real people precisely as you are.
There is no single person on this planet that does not go through challenges and struggles during their lifetime, from CEO to ministers, from nurses to famous actors. Feeling vulnerable is another emotion that needs to be accepted and deeply honoured.
Everybody has vulnerabilities
I want to bring this to your attention. Imagine connecting to two people who are both confidence coaches. The first one talks about his shiny diploma from the University of confidence coaching. The second person shares a story of how he has overcome the most profound challenges to find the confidence to speak on stage for the first time and now travel the world to motivate people. Which one would be more credible to your eyes, and which one would you feel closer to? I bet the second one.
Your stories and your vulnerabilities are what will qualify you, your gifts and expertise in the eyes of your audience. Entrepreneurs and business owners often sell tangible results; imagine if they sell these results through their journey. How more credible this would be?
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” – Crissi Jami
How to share your vulnerabilities the right way
We have established that vulnerability is empowering and courageous, so now the question is “How to share it the right way?” For vulnerability to be empowering and motivating, it must be shared from a victorious point and not from a victim one.
You would not want to share a vulnerable story to get pity or approval or to offload anger and frustration for something that has negatively impacted you. At first, because we always find gold at a later stage. Gold being the blessings, opportunities and learnings we receive from it.
You would want to share your story from the victorious side, making sure to deliver the learnings and the lessons and a powerful motivating message at the end for your readers.
Always ask yourself: “Why would I want to share this particularly vulnerable story? What inspiring message do I want to deliver with it? “
The final message is critical in any story or piece of vulnerability you share. The message and its inspiration are why it is paramount to share the story in the first place. What about if you still feel vulnerable and you are not entirely out of the story? You can still share your vulnerability from the same place as above. You can share the learnings and the awareness you have around it. The actions you are taking to motivate yourself and remain optimistic.
“What makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful.” – Brené Brown
Sharing my own vulnerabilities
A while back, I organised my first big women conference, and throughout the process, I felt very vulnerable. I doubted myself. I doubted my ability to fill the room, and I questioned whether I was good enough. I could have hidden my fears and vulnerability, but I decided to go public with it and deeply share how I felt from a victorious place.
I shared my fears. I shared how my mind was trying to play with me every day and convinced me that I was not up for the job. Many people related to this. Who doesn’t struggle with their mind and ego every single day? I acknowledged the fight with my fears and doubts, and I also recognised the massive strength and determination I had to overcome this and do it anyway.
What I shared was truly empowering for my readers and me, and it brought them closer to me and my conference.
Our stories do not belong to us. Imagine them being the instruments to help you find your life path and purpose. We live our stories for a bigger purpose. Hence sharing them becomes a positive mission, not something to fear.
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