How To Be More Humble & Vulnerable in the Workplace

humble and vulnerable in the workplace - arrows showing your way and other ways

By Rina Goldenberg Lynch

Last week, we told you that vulnerability is good for our  mental health. Following on from this, we decided to share some tips on how to be more humble and vulnerable in the workplace.  Follow these 7 tips and you will be well on your way to creating an environment that will benefit you and your entire team.

1. Become aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses. An exercise in self-reflection will make it easier to understand what we’re good at.  More importantly, it will help us understand where we might need the help of others.  Recognising one’s own weaknesses and having the courage to admit to them allows us to surround ourselves with people who can compensate for those weaknesses, creating a team based on individual strengths.

2. Accept that some ambiguity and uncertainty is inevitable.  The more senior we become – and the more we take on responsibility for others – the more difficult it becomes to admit that we’re not always in control.  But that’s exactly what we need to do.  By openly accepting that we don’t have all the answers, we come across as confident and mature.  This also clears the stage for others and allows them to contribute.  Admitting openly that uncertainty is par for the course, we are more likely to get the most from others as they too strive to diminish the impact of our unpredictable world.  Whatever happens, the team knows that it will take everyone pulling together to solve issues, thereby strengthening team spirit and collaboration.

3. Treat everyone with respect. This goes beyond being polite and kind.  This means also acknowledging that, while people’s views might be different from our own, they do have a right to their opinion. This also means recognising that as humans we are prone to making mistakes, and accepting that people deserve our respect when they make a mistake.  When we are able to respect those who make mistakes, we increase their capacity to learn from their own mistakes and decrease the probability of more mistakes being made.

4. Keep learning.  Being humble is also about accepting that there is always more to learn.  No matter how clever, experienced or expert we become, we can always learn from others.  Showing others that we see them as an opportunity to learn something new ensures that they share more openly, thereby increasing their contribution to us and the rest of the team.

5. Be human. A big part of being openly vulnerable is about having the courage to bring our whole self to work, to admit we’re human and therefore fallible.   But being vulnerable doesn’t mean we need to wear it on our sleeve.  It doesn’t mean we should overshare.  It just means that we can have the courage to let others know what and how we’re feeling or thinking in the moment, despite any pressure to hide it.

6. Let others learn from your failures. Recognising that failures have as much (if not more) to teach us as successes, a humble and vulnerable person will let others in so they can observe when things don’t go quite as planned and absorb how we deal with that.

7. Suspend your own belief.  The most important part of being humble and vulnerable is allowing oneself to temporarily suspend our beliefs in order to learn more and to engage with another.  Being curious about another perspective is more important than holding on to our own.  We already know what our perspective is and what it is based on – there’s nothing new we can learn from that.  But if we approach a different perspective with an open and curious mind, we might very well learn something new.  That is the true beauty of diversity.

So there you have it.  You might already do some of these things, but may need to get better at some of the others.  My promise to you is that, if you do all of those things regularly, you will be well ahead of most in benefiting from your team’s diversity of thought.