What are vulnerability and intimacy?

September 22, 2016 by Joshua
in Leadership

To develop trust, for someone to have your back, or for you to have someone else’s, which means for teams to work optimally, people have to allow themselves to be vulnerable to each other.

People throw the term around a lot. How precisely can you define it? To be vulnerable and to make others feel comfortable around you, it helps to know the word’s meaning precisely

My working definition of vulnerability is openness to being hurt. You can be vulnerable physically, emotionally, and intellectually, among other ways. People who have gotten hurt often protect their vulnerability to avoid becoming hurt again.

Being intimate with someone means you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable with them. People often associate intimacy with physical intimacy, which they associate with being romantic, but you can be physically intimate in standing next to people in a crowd, since you’re exposed to someone bumping into you and causing pain.

Intimacy doesn’t mean sharing any old information. It means sharing in a way where you could get hurt.

People don’t think about work environments being intimate, but for teams to work closely with each other, intimacy helps, by which I don’t mean to include romantic intimacy (depending on the context). Then they can depend on each other, know what to expect from each other, and relate in ways that are more efficient, productive, resilient, fun, and so on. Without intimacy you keep more distance and get more bureaucratic.

Can you think of ways vulnerability in teams helps?

How vulnerable do you allow yourself to be?

How much do you influence people around you to be vulnerable?

Can you improve you abilities in the last two questions?

Learn to make Meaningful Connections

with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.

Including

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  • Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
  • An excerpt from my book

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