I keep a crumpled up post-it note on my computer that says Brene Brown’s quote, “give me the courage to let myself be seen.” She writes and speaks extensively on the power of vulnerability, and her voice has been one of the most influential in my turning over a new leaf and making great strides in my personal and professional life.
In Daring Greatly she advocates for being courageous, letting yourself be seen as you are, asking for help, telling the truth, asking the hard questions, and embracing the imperfections that we so often mask or tuck away out of fear of judgment and rejection. Today I am sharing 5 quick ways to get vulnerable at work—creating an opportunity for growth and busting past the fear of what’s next.
I promise you they’ll make you feel sweaty, but that just means it’s working.
Go forth and get real. Here’s how to start.
1. Ask for honest feedback
If you have a project that you are working, whether you’re feeling fired up or blah about the whole thing, throw it out there to someone whose opinion you value. Ask them what they think, and listen.
Putting our work out there is scary, especially at the prospect of it getting criticized. However, this is where we can take something we love and give it the best possible chance to thrive. An outside opinion can offer a new perspective, offer advice on something unexpected, or draw attention to something special we didn’t know we were cultivating in our work.
Regardless of what the feedback may be, it is valuable to you, and you won’t be armed with that information unless you stick your neck out and ask for it.
2. Ask someone you admire to go for coffee
Networking professionally can be a nightmare. Trust me, I know. No matter how icky it can feel, building relationships and learning from like-minded individuals in business can be priceless.
Next time you stumble into someone who makes your eyes light up, tell them you're inspired. If you’ve been watching someone grow their business and find that you have a laundry list of questions about how the heck they’re making it happen, shoot them an email and ask if you could chat on the phone for a couple minutes. Offer to buy your boss crush coffee and see what happens.
Maybe they’ll say no. Maybe they’ll say nothing. Or maybe you’ll learn something that changes the trajectory of your life.
3. Tell the truth
Regardless of what profession you’re in, you’ve found yourself in a pickle before. Maybe you are running behind on a deadline, made a mistake, said the wrong thing, got a little snappy at a meeting. We’ve all be there, and we all know that there is always a reason why.
If you’re going through something personal and find yourself playing catch-up on client work, tell them what’s going on. If you sent the wrong file because you were up all night with your sick kid, explain what happened and say you’re sorry. Getting real in the workplace can feel like making excuses sometimes, but the truth is, we are all humans, bringing our real-life, human problems to work with us day in and day out.
One of the hardest, but best, things I ever did was tell my clients that I was going through a divorce. I felt myself collapsing under the stress of keeping up the facade while I was crumbling inside, and the moment I said it out loud the weight was lifted. It didn’t give me permission to be a bad business-person (and that’s not what I was asking for!), but it did present the opportunity for me to explain that my work was going to be affected at times as I navigated moving into my own home, figuring out my finances as one person, and handling the emotions that come with a life transition of any kind.
4. Send that email you’re afraid to send
This one is simple. Whether you’re cold-calling a potential new partner, putting feelers out for new work, or backing out of something that isn’t working for you, don’t put it off any longer. Write the email. Make the call.
Just do it. You’ll feel a million times better once you’re done.
5. Say it out loud
How many times have you found yourself steaming mad at home, repeating the thing you should have said at that afternoon’s meeting? You knew it when you sat there but couldn’t find the guts to say it out loud because of fear—fear of being vulnerable.
Next time you feel compelled to say something, whether it’s a respectfully critical comment of someone you work with or a glowing compliment for someone absolutely knocking it out of the park, say it out loud!
Have the courage to let yourself be heard. Your voice matters. Your thoughts are valuable. End of story.
Do you have a story about how getting real (and a little sweaty) at work paid off? Share with us!
THE AUTHOR: Jessica Brauer
Jessica is a born-and-raised Wyoming gal, dreamer, traveler, communications consultant, and freelance writer. A former wedding-cake baker turned community champion, her entrepreneurial spirit has carried her through many phases of life. She believes in the healing powers of tacos, travel, and hula hooping in the sunshine and makes a mean chocolate cake.