Curiosity plus vulnerability leads to authentic connection
Swap fear for vulnerability and you share, rather than sit on, your knowledge, ideas and questions — and when you share you build authentic connection.
Vulnerability provides the bridge between curiosity and sharing — and sharing with vulnerability creates a connection that feels authentic.
It all starts with curiosity.
Curiosity is a life enhancer.
Malcolm X luxuriates in the state of curiosity when he states:
I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity — because you can hardly mention anything I’m not curious about.
And I agree with Malcolm — but let’s add a next step.
That next step is about sharing the fruits of your curiosity and thereby building connection through mutual curiosity — connection enriched with the vulnerability of ‘not knowing everything.’
When you bring this approach to your business — you become more credible and relatable — you show you are human, you engage with other curious humans — and amongst them will be your future clients and recommenders.
Curiosity leads to ideas and questions — so what to do next?
You could have conversations with yourself I suppose — but that won’t create connections and engagement!
You need to share.
What stops you?
Fear of rejection.
Fear leads to defensiveness — defensiveness suffocates sharing.
What will spur you on to share?
A desire to offer insights and discover the views of others — a thirst to learn more from them.
How do you take the next step without falling down the fear spiral?
You allow yourself to be vulnerable.
Does ‘vulnerable’ sound dangerous and enfeebling?
The word is often associated with ‘endangered species’ and the ‘physically or mentally weak’.
But the vulnerability you need to take ownership of is a different kind — it’s the kind that is associated with courage and confidence.
Facing fear necessitates courage. When you demonstrate courage you connect and each time you take a courageous step, you build your confidence — you unsquash.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line it will take away your confidence. You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do. Eleanor Roosevelt
Maybe the best way to unpack this journey between curiosity and unsquashed authentic connection is a flow chart! Start with curiosity — but spot the difference when you when you choose the vulnerability route.
Why do we feel vulnerable when we share?
There are times when not sharing is the best idea. Not sharing your password in a public place and not sharing your strong political views in a sensitive space.
You are right to hold back from sharing every single detail of your traumatic childhood or marriage in a LinkedIn post.
But this is not about over-sharing and ignoring context. This is not about saying you can only be authentic if you ‘tell it how it is’ and leave no trace of mystery!
It is a wise idea to ‘leave them wanting more’.
“It is a useful social skill to be able to mask your authentic feelings, and there are times and places when that will be the wisest thing to do. It is up to each of us to judge when that is.” Stephen Joseph
But when the opportunity is there to connect by sharing some ideas or personal story — what holds you back?
The big one — fear! Fear of rejection.
Our brain picks up a threat signal— and in true survival style, our defenses are hastily erected.
If there is a block between your curiosity and your sharing — consider these 3 very human fears:-
Fear of being wrong.
“The secret to being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn’t fatal.” Seth Godin
Fear of damaging our ‘image’
“We are all just actors trying to control and manage our public image, we act based on how others might see us.” Erving Goffman
Fear of seeming ‘weak’.
“The greatest of all weaknesses is the fear of appearing weak.” Andrew Hunt
3 small steps to move beyond the sharing fears.
1. Reverse Roles.
Ask yourself — how do you respond to people who share their ideas or show vulnerability? Take a look at the ‘Beautiful Mess Effect’ discussed in the original research by Bruk and colleagues and explored by Brene Brown.
“Even when examples of showing vulnerability might sometimes feel more like weakness from the inside, our findings indicate, that, to others, these acts might look more like courage from the outside..” Anna Bruk et al
2. Be enthusiastically ‘you’.
Keep working on being the author of your life (the original meaning of ‘authentic’). People pick up your enthusiasm for a topic and feel energised — drawn in — curious! They are not judging you on some points system — they are reacting to your energy — your authentic energy.
3. Recognise your supportive environments.
The more you become your unsquashed self — aligned, aware, competent and confident — the more you recognised misaligned people and environments. So as you go on this unsquashing journey — keep pressing ‘pause’ and reflect on how a space or place is ‘making you feel’.
Share in small steps in your most supportive spaces.
So next time you are tempted to take the fear and defensiveness route and sit on the fruits of your curiosity, remind yourself of the joy you get when others share and let your enthusiasm drown out that fear.
Your messy idea born from your curiosity is worth sharing — and the kind of people you want to connect with will respond well to you inviting them into your rich treasure trove of possibilities.
“If you have knowledge , let others light their candles in it.” Margaret Fuller
Trisha Lewis is the author of ‘The Mystery of the Squashed Self’ and host of the Make it Real podcast — and regularly shares insights and tips on communication skills, confidence and impact — with a focus on ‘being real’.