Vulnerability is the willingness to share your emotions, desires, and shortcomings openly with others.
~ David R. McCain
Through my research, I found that vulnerability is the glue that holds relationships together. It’s the magic sauce.
~ Brene Brown
The giraffe is the symbol of Compassionate Communication because he is willing to stick his neck out. To sustain itself, the giraffe sticks its neck out and up into the acacia tree to get a meal. This compassionate creature is willing, on a daily basis, to embrace the risk of chomping down on dangerously long acacia thorns (see picture at right) to get what it needs. What does this courage mean to us?
To deepen and nourish our relationships, we have the choice, on a daily basis, to emulate the giraffe and stick our necks out in our relationships. We have the choice to take the risk to be authentic and vulnerable with others rather than making self-protection our priority. In other words, we can stay in our safe, familiar “comfort zone” or we can extend ourselves into the unknown by sharing our vulnerability. But why would we want to do that?
Vulnerability –> Trust –> Intimacy
Imagine sharing a closely-held truth about yourself with another person. This action sets up a dynamic that leads to trust and intimacy. When you share your vulnerability, you are telling the other person that you are a human. One of the greatest blocks to connection is projecting an image of perfection and infallibility to others. This act keeps us safe and, at the same time, prevents us from creating life-giving connections. It keeps the “magic sauce” out of our kitchen.
When we take the noble step to share our scars, struggles, and successes, we invite the other person to respond in kind. This mutual act builds a foundation of mutual trust that supports and encourages more vulnerability. Over time, as the foundation of trust is reinforced and strengthened, we build intimacy – one of the highest forms of human connection.
Breaking the First Rule of Dating
On my third date with a woman I really liked, I went against all the dating advice I had or have ever seen: When early in the dating process, one should endeavor to show their best side while reserving, at all costs, the less attractive elements of oneself for…later.
What did I do? I chose to be vulnerable. I told her about my history of cyclical depression. I shared the challenges of dealing with negative self-talk, extreme self-consciousness, and a sense that I was living two lives — one depressed and the other feeling good.
How did she respond? She responding by sharing her vulnerability about a health challenge she was facing. Wow! My vulnerability gave her space and encouragement to share hers. We talked long into the night about who we each really were and began to create sometime very special. Katie and I moved full force into the vulnerability-trust dynamic which led, over time, to intimacy, marriage, and daily partnership living.
The magic sauce continue to flavors our lives as I share my scars, struggles, and successes and Katie responds in kind.