Opinions expressed by Minority Mindset contributors are their own.
“What’s something you struggle with?” I asked my manager.
She looked me in the eyes and spoke slightly above a whisper. “I’ve been trying to get promoted here for a while now. It hasn’t been easy, and I’m at a point where I really need the money,” she said without hesitation as her voice cracked.
I could hear the knot in her throat as the words spilled from her lips. She was honest. She was vulnerable.
In every type of business, you will deal with people. Whether they are teammates, contractors, customers, or clients you will find yourself interacting with living, breathing humans. This means you need to know how to build strong relationships.
Being vulnerable will help build those relationships.
When I asked my manager about her struggles she was upfront; she didn’t dazzle me with flowery words, throw corporate jargon at me, or evade the question like a politician. She was honest even though she could have easily said something like “I have no struggles. I’m amazing, this company is amazing, why would I struggle?”
If you want to build real connections be vulnerable. Show the human side of yourself—your victories, as well as your losses. We tend to believe our leaders are flawless. We forget that we see the finished product and not the other 99 failed attempts.
When my manager told me she was struggling with money and attaining her promotion I thought of two things:
1. Tell her about The Minority Mindset, side hustles, and starting a business. (Unfortunately, didn’t do this!)
2. I need to help her reach her goal.
That’s the power of vulnerability. It shows the people around you that you are fallible. It helps us draw similarities between each other, and we realize we want to help each other reach our goals.
Perhaps you own a business, or maybe you’re an investor. Imagine meeting with someone who would hold a high-level leadership position within the company. The person is charming, brilliant, and eloquent (like you). Then, you ask them about their shortcomings. In some witty, charismatic way they avoid the question entirely.
Would you trust them to hold a leadership role?
No. This person cannot be truthful enough to say that they have failed. They are caught up in creating a perfect image. They want to appear tough and invincible. Nothing is more important to them than having this reputation. Moreover, how would a team relate to someone who portrays themselves as perfect?
Relationships that have strong elements of vulnerability will benefit everyone involved. Vulnerability involves having the courage to share things that may otherwise be considered foolish. I’m sure everyone is imagining a couple talking about their feelings and being ooey, gooey in love. I’m not, because that’s gross.
In business, vulnerability appears in the form of sharing ideas that may sound ridiculous. It’s about saying what everyone is thinking. Vulnerability is openness to feedback and discussion.
When leaders create these environments, people feel empowered to share their ideas because they know they will be heard. They know there is empathy in their organization. Work to create a culture of vulnerability and expression. This rich foundation will lend itself towards new discovery.
Encourage those around you to be vulnerable. Show empathy for the things they share. Learn that when you have someone’s trust you can achieve many goals a team.