There is rarely a straight path towards vulnerability.
It’s easy to see it in training or a coaching setting. In these settings, we are working to help others to leap. We are asking them to step into the unknown. To either do something they aren’t used to do or share something that is difficult to share. Shame is close. What if the answer is wrong? What if the other doesn’t understand? Will they laugh?
But it’s necessary. In learning and changing there is always a leap to be done.
And, it can’t be forced.
The work is to take the time it needs. To create a safe space. One in which that person feels seen and heard. One in which that person feels understood. One in which generosity is established. To allow that person to share gradually. To let that person learn that her sharing is welcome. To help that person benefit from the sharing she has done.
I’ve again been amazed by the time things take. I was working on a workshop with a colleague. We were trying to define the needs and desires participants for that workshop would have. When I asked her to list some of the struggles she experienced as a leader, she started the list with visible problems she encountered.
I had started to write them down, thus giving her time to think and name what she could think of. At one moment she became hesitant and continued only after explaining that she was sharing the next item only because it would not leave the room. From there on she added a few more items.
As we looked at the list, we could determine a difference. The first items on the list concerned surface struggles, the ones on the top of the iceberg. The items she had been hesitant to share were all below the surface. Things more difficult to share connected with emotions, values and deep needs. These describe pressure felt, social impact experienced as well as existing anxieties. Sharing these details had made her very vulnerable and it felt daunting to her. It had taken her a few years to share them.
Discovering the difference between the different sections of the list fascinated her. What she loved though, was to discover how her sharing described exactly what people would be looking for in our workshop. Her experience had become a useful strength.