One of my favorite days of the week is Super Soul Sunday and if you are an Oprah Winfrey fan you know what I am talking about. On Oprah’s network OWN, Sunday is Super Soul Sunday, where she conducts exclusive interviews with some of the top inspirational thinkers, spiritual leaders and authors such as Joel Osteen, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson and Deepok Chopra to name a few.
One of my all-time favorite teachers of the moment is Dr. Brene Brown, researcher and author of the fantastic book Daring Greatly. She has spent the past dozen years studying the concepts of shame and vulnerability as they pertain to connection. She participated in a TED talk back in 2010 on the concept of vulnerability and it has had more than 11 million hits to date. Her talks and research has affected me not only professionally with my connection research but personally as well –so much so I devoted an entire chapter to the topic of shame and vulnerability in my first book, mentioning Brown’s research throughout the entire chapter.
In Oprah’s Lifeclass with Brown last night, she pointed out that to have better connections with others we must allow ourselves to be seen–that is what being vulnerable is about. It is about being “real” and letting down our guard or veil and showing people who we really are instead of pretending that we are perfect and have everything under control all of the time. Of course, you have to be careful with how much you reveal to someone before you really get to know them but there are ways to find that out fairly quickly. Here are three simple things I do to practice being more vulnerable when meeting new people, which I find has led me to having more authentic connections than ever before. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
- Smile at someone and say hello even if they seem grumpy and unapproachable. Don’t feel bad if they don’t smile back –feel good that you smiled first
- Share something funny that you noticed about your surroundings or a joke you just heard on the radio or on TV last night to someone you barely know even if they don’t laugh at it. Feel good that you have humor in your life.
- Share a bit of something personal that is either funny or a lesson learned. Make it general and see how the person responds. If they have something to add to the topic or follow up with their own story to share, then you know that you can go beyond surface level talk with them. However, if they look at you with a blank stare or respond back in a judgmental way—best not to go deeper than surface level talk with them. But feel good that you showed a more personal side of yourself and seek out those who respond back in a similar way.