Vulnerability Accelerator for Relationships

woman-in-the-maskPssst. Don’t tell anyone, but I have a secret to share. Come closer, so no one can hear. When we share an intimate insight with our conversational partner, we are exposing a vulnerability and appear more likable. We must be judicious in our sharing. No one wants to hear about your painful hemorrhoids.

You don’t want to share a secret that might be repulsive. I had a fellow that shared some very intimate secrets of his sex life. Let’s just say he and his wife had struggled with intimacy, which lead to infidelity, which when exposed to the wife, lead to an insatiable appetite for sex between the estranged couple. TMI – Too Much Information. This was on our first meeting. The good side was that I apparently made him feel very comfortable. I had to check to see that I was not wearing a priest’s collar and we were in the confessional. He crossed the line and made me uncomfortable. He was unleashing a burden and not developing rapport.

In church, one of our priests disclosed his vulnerability to being judgmental. He confessed to the congregation of several weaknesses including judging the youths that allow their pants to hang down under their underwear and the public display of tattoos. His shared that he too bore weaknesses similar to everyone else. His confession of imperfection grabbed the congregation.

In a study by N.L. Collins and L.C. Miller in 1994, they discovered those people that let you in on a little personal secret will be more admired. In turn, people who trust you will share more of their secrets. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. This is one of the building blocks of building a relationship. You are sharing facets and emotions of your life that peel back the veneer and show your vulnerabilities. If you are in a dating situation, this can take your relationship to an entire different level.

Disclosing an embarrassing moment or a peculiar trait can enhance bonding. Think of an occasion during a dating situation or a business meeting when you bonded with someone after disclosing a more intimate story. Public speakers use self-deprecating humor to bond with their audience.

Be careful when disclosing insider or fiduciary information. This disclosure can show a character flaw. The person you are revealing this confidential information with, will look upon you with distrust and will always be wary of your intentions. If you are violating this trust, what else will you be willing to do?

Don’t accept your ignorance. Challenge your intellect. Seek knowledge from those around you. If you don’t know something, don’t bluff it and look like a fool. Most people can see through the veil. Self-disclosure can be the cement that joins two bricks. You are asking for their help. People love to talk, especially in their fields of knowledge. If they throw out a term that you are not familiar with then go ahead, ask for clarification, and disclose your weakness while asking for their help.

Go ahead; it is all right to share a secret. Have fun and laugh in conversation.

For more tips on developing rapport, take a look at FACE 2 FACE : Observation, Interviewing and Rapport Building Skills: an Ex-Secret Service Agent’s Guide

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2 Responses to Vulnerability Accelerator for Relationships

  1. Andrea Nicholls says:

    Excellent point on the difference between sharing a vulnerability, and unloading a burden. I’d much rather share in the moment you describe with the priest, than the fellow inexplicably dumping his sex life on you. I’ve been subjected to a few of those myself, and they just make me uncomfortable. On the plus side, that means I try not to do that to others!
    Don’t share the ‘rhoids! 🙂

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