The stoic, stiff-upper-lip generation gave us really bad advice when they taught us never to show weakness. Unfortunately, some of the huggy-lovey people talking about “authenticity” today are giving equally bad advice. Time for some balance!
In this three-part series I’m exploring the role vulnerability plays in team effectiveness. In the first post, I shared the risks of showing too little vulnerability. Today, I’ll focus on what happens when you appear too vulnerable. In the final post, I’ll share some examples of how the right expressions of vulnerability can bolster trust and enhance team relationships.
Part II: The Wimp
Vulnerability is a natural part of the human condition. Neuroscience research even shows us how demonstrating vulnerability in front of others can help us bond with them by triggering the release of oxytoxin.
But let’s not get carried away. Expressing vulnerability is good; failing to move beyond your vulnerability can divide you from the rest of your team. If your expressions of vulnerability cause your teammates to question your capability, you’ve gone too far.
Generally, the test is whether or not you continually look to the team for help on an issue without making any changes on your own. If you do that, you have essentially left the problem in their hands. Great team members ask for help when they need it, but they never cede ownership of the challenge.
If your challenge is self-esteem, that’s a problem your team can’t solve. Don’t expect your teammates to have confidence in you if you don’t have confidence in yourself.
Are you a Wimp?
- Do you frequently question your performance and whether you “measure up?”
- Do you look for reassurance from teammates by making overly negative statements about yourself?
- Do you ask for positive feedback and reassurance from your boss over and over?
- Have your teammates stopped making eye contact because your vulnerability is making them uncomfortable?
If so, think about some things you can say that will make you sound more confident. Try questioning less and asserting a little more. You’ll be surprised how everyone’s view of you changes—most importantly, your own.