Why I Can’t Be Vulnerable with You

Have you ever felt like you put yourself out there with someone by being open and honest and vulnerable, only to get nothing in return?

I have. It’s kind of an awkward feeling. And maybe I’ve been guilty of refusing to be vulnerable with others. In my coaching experiences, I can think of a handful of reasons why a teammate will resist being vulnerable. Maybe they don’t think it’s safe. Maybe they don’t see the benefits in being vulnerable. Maybe they’ve completely disengaged.

But you know what it all boils down to? Trust!

  • If I trust you, I know I can speak honestly without fear of retaliation.
  • If I trust you, I know that you will listen to what I have to say and take action on what you say you’ll do.
  • If I trust you, I know that you care about my perspective, even if you disagree.

Want your teammates to open up to you? Do these things:

  • Go first. You can’t expect someone to be vulnerable with you when you aren’t willing to be vulnerable first.
  • Know their style. Head leaders aren’t as comfortable being vulnerable as heart leaders. Heck, they may not even know what you mean by “vulnerable.” Know that different leaders view vulnerability differently. Some view it as a weakness. Again, lead by example.
  • Do what you say you’ll do. If you leave a conversation saying you’re going to do three things, do them. A lack of follow through communicates a lack of commitment.
  • Debate, but don’t bite. Don’t encourage people to be open and honest only to berate them when you disagree. You can disagree, but you shouldn’t attack.

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