One time I told a story to a mastermind group. Afterward, someone later complimented me on being “vulnerable.”
I was horrified. I wasn’t being vulnerable. I don’t remember what I shared, but I do remember I made a conscious decision to share that story with the group. I was supplying an interesting anecdote I thought the group would enjoy. And they did.
A lot of people talk about Brene Brown and her writings on vulnerability. But if you read her work, she never encourages readers to bare their souls, especially in business.
In fact, in her book I Thought It Was Just Me, she tells a story on herself. She shared her frustrations as a young mother with someone she thought was a friend. The friend promptly said, “I always loved being a mom.” Yeah right – every minute. In retrospect, she says, she reached out too soon.
In her book Daring Greatly, Brene Brown makes an even stronger statement:
“Vulnerability is based on mutuality and requires boundaries and trust. It’s not oversharing, it’s not purging, it’s not indiscriminate disclosure, and it’s not celebrity-style social media information dumps. Vulnerability is about sharing our feelings and our experiences with people who have earned the right to hear them. [Emphasis added.]
So when it comes to YOU, forget about being vulnerable when you’re marketing. Your prospects and clients rarely have earned the right to share your feelings on every aspect of your personal life.
But there is a place for appreciating vulnerability in business – and that’s when you communicate with prospects and clients. They are often extremely vulnerable when they come.
In I Thought It Was Just Me, Brene Brown points out that credentialed experts hold the power to shame others – and that includes their clients.
So as a business owner, when you read Brene Brown’s work, think of how your clients feel. Sometimes they feel vulnerable just by hiring you. They have to admit they can’t do something or they’ve somehow gotten into a mess. And it’s individual.
It’s very individual. We can understand why most people would be terrified about calling a DUI lawyer. But people get intimidated by calling tech support, financial advisors, life coaches and even lawn care services.
That’s where you write your content to say, outright, that you’re not judgmental. One life coach I know says, “I’m the least judgmental person you’ll ever meet.”
People get traumatized by experts.
In his book on The Tapping Solution, Nick Ortner tells story after story about people who were shamed by their doctors. He tells horror stories of doctors who say bluntly, “There’s nothing we can do. You’re gonna die,” and then leave the room.
And here’s the thing. People who have been traumatized by the last professional they hired are going to be scared of hiring you too. If their last accountant told them they were spendthrifts who needed to earn more money, they’ll be very nervous about hiring another accountant. If their last lawyer said, “Boy you really screwed up,” they’ll wait way too long to hire a lawyer the next time.
Brene Brown gives an example of a woman who postponed prenatal care – realizing the risks she was taking – because she couldn’t face a doctor telling her she was fat.
That’s one reason I believe your client’s backstory has 3 parts – their problem, the obstacles that keep them from solving the problem, AND what they’ve done so far. Your client brings baggage – and often that baggage includes a great deal of vulnerability.
For more on client baggage – download my free report https://cathygoodwin.com/baggage