As we grow older, we pick several social cues that teach us vulnerability is a weakness. From my experiences, more competitive the enviroment, stronger is the message. Generally, vulnerability is seen as less resilience.
Learning more about psychology and human behavior over last few years and working in HR now, I have started seeing vulnerability in a much different light. I feel that expressing vulnerability is actually a sign of strength and courage: strength to accept our imperfections and limits to knowledge; courage to seek help. Being vulnerable is not the same as being gullible. Vulnerability is more about letting go of the facade and opening up your authentic self to someone. It has an inherent risk of the other person breaking your trust. I am not suggesting opening up to anyone randomly. You need time to judge someone but after that it is actually all about taking a chance. That is what I want to emphasize – making that bet on someone is quite important because if it works in your favor (>50% probability according to me as an optimist), it makes a big difference.
Being vulnerable is helpful in the professional life as well. That can be especially tricky because you don’t want others in the workplace taking advantage. But, there are times when you need help and only genuine advice will make sense. Not the phony talk. Building that trust to talk about sensitive issues with some people is important. Being vulnerable is about growth-mindset because you are willing to seek help. Being vulnerable is about making progress. In terms of the workplace, it is that situation when you want to discuss career development, performance, changing roles, etc. with someone. The more you put in, the more you get out of those conversations. Sharing what is truly on your mind puts you in a vulnerable spot but also helps to get the best insights in return. It follows the risk-return theory. When you risk sharing yourself with someone, there is also a potential to build a lasting relationship. Think of your best relationships – my guess is that they grew stronger after you opened up.
One of the famous scholars on the topic of vulnerability is Brene Brown and I will highly recommend watching her TED talk shared below. In an achievement-oriented world, vulnerability deserves respect!