Being vulnerable

heartinhands

“In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen.”

“Lean into the uncomfortable.”

“Having the courage to be imperfect.”

“Letting go of who we think we should be and be who we really are.”

“What makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful.”

This all sounds very nice. Very easy to say, yet quite difficult to actually do – especially, for people who work in schools.

Schools are very good at developing the head. We spend so much time thinking about thinking and developing ideas and perspectives. While there is a strong argument that this is important and thinking has an important place in what we do, we need to also develop the heart in terms of our interactions with our peers and students.

We can think about things and solve problems, but it is nothing unless we are developing feelings and emotions to connect every one of us.

It is this deep connection that is inside of us all. This allows us to be compassionate and also have the courage to be more vulnerable.

This made me think about how I could deepen my connection with the people I work with. This would ultimately improve our relationships, trust and as a way of being better at what we do.

How can I strengthen my relationships with those that I spend so much time with?

The answer is being more vulnerable. If we reveal more of ourselves at work, so that people get to know us better, wouldn’t this spur on others to be more comfortable around us too?

As teachers, we really do fear letting other people see us. We hide so much away and keep it locked up. We sometimes get to see people differently outside of school, if we are lucky.

We don’t want our students to hide away, do we? Of course not!

We all need to get better at being playful at work, lower the walls and bring in the real you to work. Show your personality, share things beyond the transactional stuff that is meaningless and empty. Otherwise, we just take things too seriously. We become too stiff at work because we are too busy to get to know each other better.

Being more vulnerable gives others permission to also drop their guard a bit. Schools would be so much more fun to work in if we could develop more compassion, connection and courage by being more outward and vulnerable with one another. How else do you get to know each other?

Do you hide yourself or show the real you in the work place?

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9 comments

  1. dfinesto

    Yes totally agree! For real relationships and connections in our workplace we need to reveal who we are! When we open ourselves up ( each in our own personal way) collaboration and trust follows naturally. We then might become more open minded to each other and sharing, understanding, empathy tec… naturally happens …

    • concentricthinking

      You are right in say “each in our own personal way.” It does need to be filtered a little and what we show different people depends on how close we work with them. Personally, I am finding that showing who I really am with my team is such a huge benefit. They really get me, and in turn I really get them. By me leading the way in this, they too have walked towards me – result, better working relationship. As you say it naturally happens and that is so true. When it naturally happens it it so real – more human-like not teacher-like.

      • dfinesto

        Yes, I feel truly safe when people ‘get me’. But to get people to ‘get me’ I need to allow myself to be vulnerable – to show who I really am – inside and out! To openly share my values, likes, loves, hates etc… To not be fearful that I may not be liked when I reveal the real me. To feel free to be silly and serious. To feel safe to say ‘ I don’t understand – please explain’.

  2. Stephanie

    Powerful post. I remember a few years ago feeling unprofessional when I cried in front of my class. A child was delivering a speech about the death of her parent, she was so upset she couldn’t go on. Having been sitting quietly shedding a tear in the background, I jumped up and read the speech with her. I was front and centre crying with this child about the loss of her mother. Many of the children were shocked that I would cry too, even though many of them were shedding tears. Have our classrooms become so devoid of emotion, that we teachers can’t share grief?

    • concentricthinking

      There is something really wrong about feeling that you were being unprofessional. What you did showed compassion, took courage and you made a special connection with this girl you was actually trying to show and do all those things. I think what you did demonstrates to our students and the people we work with that we are all allowed to feel things – even at school. We need more Stephanie’s in the world!
      Just a little footnote…. I made a personal connection with this post. I also shared about my mum, as a girl in the class had lost someone in her family. We both showed our feelings and the rest of the class had so much empathy after that moment. We were all closer together because we weren’t afraid of being vulnerable.

  3. Munira

    Agreed. I love this quote by Bob Marley. “Being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure thats so real it scares you”. Vulnerability is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. How many of us have the courage to be open and true, to ourselves and other people? Not too many. We slip on a mask to hide our vulnerability because we are afraid of betrayal, afraid of being judged or taken advantage off. Truth is, we are all vulnerable. To be alive is to be vulnerable. We just have to ask “what are we doing with it?” Being open with the people we work with is a recipe for success. If we can allow ourselves to be trusting and respectful of each other, genuine and have pure intentions, so much more good can come out of it. Our kids are so vulnerable to rejection, criticism and anger at home and in their lives. They deserve to grow up in an environment of safety, acceptance and warmth. We as teachers should be able to provide this. when we are open, when we show our true authentic selves, our students will meet us there. When this connection is formed, there is nothing they cant accomplish. We need to rememeber that there will always be that handful of students who may take advantage of our openness. That should not discourage us. For every handful that do, there are lots more who will thrive in the classroom because of it! šŸ˜Š

  4. sherrattsam

    It is amazing how much closer I feel to people at this school than my previous school… even though I have the role I have. Much of this is the regular socializing and the fact that we live in a smaller community here. However, its also connected to disclosure and revealing who we are. In my previous school, I felt as though there were people who would use information about me as ammunition against me… so I was cagey and distrusting of pretty much everyone. I don’t have that feeling here at all – people are accepting, interested, respectful and keen to have a laugh. So important. This is probably why there is so much cross-grade, cross-school collaboration going on.

  5. Fleur Coleman

    This post for me also questions the difference in cultural pedagogies and expectations, a very interesting concept I feel here in New Zealand, (where I am based and currently not teaching, but viewing from an ex-teacher point of view) – if I leant towards te Ao Maori, in this world I can be real – whereas if I leant towards the Pakeha side, then to be vulnerable is inexcusable, and the issues you share with your colleagues can then become tidbits to be used as criticism at a later date. But do we build a stronger bond as real people, bonds that are meaningful, or live a less fulfilling shallower existence pretending to be someone we are not? Ultimately, how does that affect our learners? What is the lesson? We have some excellent Pakeha (non-Maori) teachers, we also have many that struggle daily or do not seem to care about connecting with indigenous or ‘other’ learners because they lack tolerance, empathy and understanding – the ability to be real, or vulnerable. Easily accessible are statistics that exist showing a trend of constant underachievement for some groups, but the arguments would fly thick and fast around cultural deficits in retaliation.

    • sherrattsam

      What a fascinating comment – thanks for sharing. I have been very lucky to teach some kids from NZ who have used Maori philosophies a lot in their inquiries and feel I learned a massive amount from them. To be perfectly honest, whenever I am around someone with that cultural background, I feel really culturally impoverished myself!

      It is really interesting to hear about how the different mentalities manifest themselves in the school environment… I am going to look a little closer now to see if I can figure out why certain people act the way they do here.

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