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When is being vulnerable too much?

When is being vulnerable too much?

We live in a culture where being vulnerable is praised and encouraged. After all, it feels good to be honest with yourself and others, and it helps you form bonds with people through commonalities or similar life experiences. However, when does being vulnerable become oversharing? When does it cross the line from what’s healthy to what’s weird? And how can you tell when you’re about to overshare, so you can reel yourself back in? Let’s look at these questions now.


What makes us vulnerable in the workplace

One of my favorite quotes about vulnerability comes from Brené Brown, who describes vulnerability as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Essentially, it means sharing things about yourself that are incomplete, uncertain or emotional—information that you’re not entirely sure how others will react to or judge. It can be an incredibly powerful tool when used appropriately—but also an extremely risky one if you’re not careful.


How leaders are often encouraged to show vulnerability

People respond well to genuine openness and leaders who connect with their followers. In order to build team camaraderie, these types of interactions are encouraged. However, leaders can also overstep a line when they open up about personal issues that don’t have a direct impact on their work. This can hinder relationships in ways that extend beyond their professional capacity. For example, it might be appropriate for a leader to discuss how she was diagnosed with cancer or how her husband was killed in an accident—but it would not be appropriate for her to talk about why she didn’t go home last night because she had sex with someone else. When your leadership role becomes part of your identity, you risk alienating people if you share details from your personal life without good reason.


What makes people uncomfortable with vulnerability

When you are truly open with others, they have access to your entire world. This can make them feel uncomfortable because they don’t know how to react or respond, which causes them to act reserved. Once you start sharing your insecurities and vulnerabilities with people, it is important to stick with it and allow those who care about you to get comfortable with those things about you that scare them most.


How do we strike a balance?

When it comes to leading our team, we must strike a balance between allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and oversharing. We can’t expect our employees to trust us if we don’t trust them first; but when is it time to keep our emotions in check? Here are some ways you can tell. 1. You feel like your staff isn’t working hard enough: If you feel like your staff isn’t working hard enough or aren’t doing their job right, then there may be something else going on here—you may not trust them because they haven’t proven themselves yet or you may not know how to give feedback effectively. Either way, addressing these issues will help you build that trust with your team members. 2. You have bad days: Everyone has bad days where they just want to vent about everything that happened during the day or just need someone to listen while they rant for an hour about what went wrong. It’s okay to have those days once in awhile, but if it becomes more than that and it starts affecting other people around you, then maybe its time for some self-reflection and change of behavior. 3. Your personal life affects your work life: Your personal life should never affect your work life. There should always be a separation between who you are at home and who you are at work. However, if things happen outside of work that make you feel uncomfortable or stressed out (e.g., family drama), then it’s important to take care of yourself so that it doesn’t spill into work as well.


Here what HBR has to say on Being Vulnerable as a Leader

Check out How to Build a Great Employee Experience here.

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