In the last email, I shared a scenario about a feeling of distrust that had arisen between a manager and her team member. I mentioned the key to resolving this situation would reside in each person’s willingness to be more vulnerable in communication with one another.
The challenge here is getting two people who have their walls up to become more vulnerable. By nature, human beings do not like to feel vulnerable. Self-preservation is wired into our DNA, and this wiring often interferes with our ability to communicate clearly and establish good working relationships.
Learning to be vulnerable takes practice and feels uncomfortable, but it is also a powerful tool for solving trust issues in relationships!
A famous quote by Sigmund Freud states:
“Out of Your vulnerabilities will come Your strength.”
So what does vulnerability look like and sound like?
To answer that, and before you read further, check out this 2-minute video from Patrick Lencioni, author of the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In it, he identifies two types of trust and how to communicate with more vulnerability.
In a sense, you could say both the manager and her employee have a level of predictive distrust with one another right now; meaning based on their past interactions, they predict that the other will not listen or understand their point of view.
To get past this stalemate, they will need to practice vulnerability-based communication. This means having the courage to share how they are feeling with one another, and the manager must be willing to go first.
Think what might happen if the manager was able to say to the employee;
“I hear you feel that I do not support you. I am confused by that, because from my point of view, I have taken these actions (list the actions) to support you. I am not sure how to help you feel supported going forward. Can you help me understand what you want and need from me as a manager?”
That is real vulnerability on the manager’s side, because she is acknowledging she does not know how to resolve this situation and is asking for the employee’s help.
This can feel very uncomfortable as a manager, because in a lead role, there is often an assumption that, “I am supposed to know the answers”.
This is an assumption that needs to be challenged often. Remember…it is okay not to know all the answers and to ask for help!
Try practicing more vulnerability-based communication with your teams and family; you will be surprised at how it positively influences the dynamics of the relationship.