I met a colleague, Lynn Baldwin-Rhoades, for coffee recently. She is the president of Power Chicks International, a wonderful online and in-person networking and resource organization for women.
Lynn is someone I know and like but didn’t know well. I felt like we both wanted a deeper connection with each other.
Both Lynn and I are introverts, so we don’t easily share information about ourselves; me less so than her. On top of that, I’m also a perfectionist. Consequently, sharing my mistakes and fears is very scary for me. I’m afraid if I truly open up people will judge me. So, for much of my life I have often avoided being candid about my feelings, blunders and failings.
Well, perhaps because I’ve been in a bit of a fragile state lately due to some challenging things happening in my life I was much more open then I usually am with Lynn. I shared my fears, insecurities and self-doubts. And you know what, not only did she not judge me, she opened up and shared some of hers.
The connection between us deepened. I felt a true closeness to her. What I thought would be just an hour get together turned into a two hour conversation. It was really wonderful.
Shortly afterwards, I saw a video she posted on her Facebook page about a book she is reading called “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazi. She read a passage from the book that essentially stated being vulnerable with others builds relationships. As I witnessed first-hand that is true.
I know as an etiquette consultant, I can be intimidating to others. As a result I’ve been trying to write and speak more about the mistakes I make so that people see I’m just a regular Jane, warts and all. I want people to understand that if an etiquette consultant can make mistakes it is OK for you to make them too. Of course, I also hope by sharing my slip-ups and the lessons learned you will learn from them as well.
So, what’s the takeaway here? The message is try to be open to others about some of the things that might seem like big secrets to you – your fears, your pain – especially if you’re a perfectionist. Now that said, you can’t strike up a conversation with a stranger and start talking about your dysfunctional childhood. You would scare them off. But, with people you are getting to know you might share a small fear or worry such as you get nervous before public speaking or networking is hard for you or you’re anxious about an upcoming interview.
As I am learning, the more you open up to others – whether it be one on one, through writing or when speaking to a group – the more relatable and likeable you will become.
What do you think? Is it hard for you to open up to people? Do you allow perfectionism or the fear of rejection keep you from sharing what might seem like imperfection? Have you had an experience where you were vulnerable and it deepened a connection?