What is Vulnerability?

#BeAuthentic Chat Recap

There’s a good bit of talk about “vulnerability” today. We decided to explore the topic with our friends in the #BeAuthentic October 11 Chat, and we loved what they had to say.

What Does Vulnerability Mean to You?

Having grown up in a military family, I can attest to the fact that the traditional definition of vulnerability is not a positive thing. Invulnerability is the goal.

vul·ner·a·bil·i·ty

the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed.

However, in human relationships, invulnerability suggests that we be self-sufficient, all-knowing and super-competent. We wind up having to keep others at arm’s length.

Our friend Daniel Buhr gave us not one but two great definitions:

What Is Vulnerability? BeAuthentic
–Vulnerability is an openness to letting others see the fullness of who you are, the light and the shadows.
–Vulnerability sets down our mask and allows us to be who we are.

What’s Good About It?

Tapping into the wisdom of the group was fun. We wondered what folks would count as positive outcomes from vulnerability. There were so many interesting responses:

  • Your most lovable self becomes visible
  • Something bigger than you happens when you are vulnerable.
  • We are each at once both broken & brilliant. Accepting our brokenness with grace allows our brilliance to shine.
  • Something honest. Something real. Allows for a connection to be established.
  • Growth, honesty, innovation, healing, peace

When is Vulnerability Out of Place?

Recognizing that common sense has to prevail, and the time and place are important, we asked our chat buddies when vulnerability is not appropriate.

Our friend Tamela Rich gave us a succinct and powerful comment:

When it is used as a tool, especially to manipulate. #inauthentic

Why does Vulnerability Matter to a Team?

Responses to this question came quickly and these responses represent the themes we were hearing:

  • Without vulnerability and trust, you will never have a high-performing team.
  • People will stay in defense mode without vulnerability and trust.
  • Cohesion requires a certain level of bonding and camaraderie.
Vulnerability Needs Trust
  • Without vulnerability you’ll only have a bunch of people, not a team.
  • Vulnerability to each other allows us to serve each other. Service builds trust. Trust builds leadership.
  • Revealing our weakness would seem to be damaging to trust, but in fact we need to let them see who we are for them to trust us.

How Do You Allow Yourself to Be Vulnerable?

The chat produced some actionable ways to practice vulnerability. One of our favorite answers came from Hebah Faden:

Accepting short comes and mistakes, admitting to be wrong or not able to do things as supposed to, apologizing with a smile #BeAuthentic

What is the Risk?

The group knew immediately the risk involved with vulnerability. Here are the headliners:

  • Being vulnerable is scary.
  • It can bring about change, which also is scary.
  • You might allow yourself to be seen and the other person won’t follow suit. Do it any way.
  • Losing credibility or being dismissed as weak. Untrue, but it hurts.

How is Vulnerability a Strength?

The group decided that It takes confidence in yourself and humanity to be vulnerable. You can’t be invulnerable and ever hope to change the world.

The group sage, Daniel Buhr, closed us out with our favorite commend of the night:

We cannot be authentic without being vulnerable, & if we’re not authentic we miss the full measure of our magnificent self.

Thank You!

Thanks to the cadre of soulful people who shared their thoughts with us! We appreciate you dropping by to share your ideas. Our next chat is scheduled for

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We cannot be authentic without being vulnerable
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Avatar for Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon is the founder of Interact. She is a TEDx speaker and a member of the adjunct faculty at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur.com, CEO.com, and Fast Company.