Attending a dinner with people from one of my alumni groups, gathered to plan an event. I’ve seen these folks before but don’t know them well.
We were talking about taking leisurely walks around the city. I said that during the early stages of quarantine, I used to get up early and walked the neighborhood for an hour every day. It was fun to discover the historic buildings and local stores. I went out early so I could avoid masking – nobody else was there.
In response, another person complimented me on being “vulnerable” as I shared this.
I tried to be polite, but I wanted to say, “Gimme a break. What’s vulnerable?”
First of all, many people confuse vulnerability with oversharing. Brene Brown never said to bare our souls to strangers. She talks about being brave, taking a stand, and living with the consequences. I wrote about this in detail in my book, Grow Your Business One Story At A Time. (It’s free to Kindle members.)
Second, I make conscious choices when sharing stories. Even disclosing that I like country music can be hazardous to my reputation. I encourage my clients to be especially careful as they share stories in their marketing content. Check out my Strategic Storytelling Podcast #51: Being Vulnerable in Business.
I was totally comfortable talking about my morning strolls. On my other Medium channel, I share information on different topics; people read them in a different context.
When I do comedy, I joke about things I’d rarely talk about offstage. Occasionally a listener thinks I’m being 100% truthful but most people know comedians exaggerate wildly to be funny.
We’re all comfortable with different things. I wince when I hear some people’s stories. Some probably wince back when they hear mine.
But I’m not being vulnerable in the sense of “taking a risk to share self-deprecating information” . If I don’t think I’ll be comfortable sharing, I don’t share. Occasionally I read my audience wrong or I get a little too relaxed. But in no way is vulnerability coming into play.
Hopefully we’re seeing a backlash. A Facebook post said something to the effect of, “My coach told me to get vulnerable. I’d rather be eaten by a bear the day I had a root canal.”
In the comments, several people suggested she explore her vulnerability.
My comment was, “It’s about time somebody said this.” I hope she fires her coach and shares only what’s comfortable, wherever she is.