I think we all want to feel valued and respected at work. We want to be viewed as competent and in control. We don’t want to show any weakness. So we often hide our vulnerabilities.
But according to author Deanna deBara, this is a mistake. Because pretending that you’re perfect and never make mistakes will cause your coworkers to view you as inauthentic and possibly untrustworthy. It will prevent you from taking risks because you’re so afraid of making a misstep. And it will make the people around you feel like they also have to pretend to be perfect, even though they’re not. No one has all the answers. And everyone makes mistakes.
Being vulnerable at work allows you to stop pretending. It allows everyone to be more daring, innovative, and creative because they don’t have to be so afraid of failure. And it will help you to form closer bonds with your coworkers, because they’ll be able to see the real you.
But if you’re not used to showing any vulnerability at work, it can be difficult to know how to start. deBara suggests that you try doing the following:
- Tell people when you have a problem at work that you don’t know how to solve – You don’t need to know how to solve every problem. It’s OK to admit to others when you’re not sure what to do. Talk about your situation and ask for help.
- Admit when you’re wrong – If you do make a mistake, own up to it. Don’t try to cover it up or blame other people. Your coworkers will appreciate your honesty and respect you for it.
- Don’t demand perfection – No one is perfect. So you can’t expect your coworkers to be perfect. If you’re working on a project with other people, and they deliver 80% of the time, then they’re doing good work.
- Practice – If you’re not used to being vulnerable around your coworkers, it can be a really tough thing to do. So to make the process a little easier, try opening up to a coworker you trust. The more you practice, the easier it will get.
- Be real – Really try to be open, honest, and authentic with the people around you. Drop the façade, and let your coworkers see the real you (imperfections and all). Being honest with people can be scary. But it’s definitely worth the effort.
deBara, D. (2018, June 4). Why it’s time to take off your workplace armor. Medium. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/taking-note/why-its-time-to-take-off-your-workplace-armor-18f2309ce6f2