Selective vulnerability: How to share your feelings at work

Walking the line between robotic and erratic is a tricky skill to master

Selective vulnerability: How to share your feelings at work

Showing emotions at work is a pretty polarising topic. Show too much and you’ll be considered erratic, show too little and you’re branded unsympathetic. However, as Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffie told HRD, there is a middle ground sweet spot. In a recent webinar with HRD, in conjunction with Lever, Fosslien and Duffy, explained the realities of selective vulnerability – walking the line between sharing, which builds trust, and oversharing, which destroys it.

“The way to embody selective vulnerability is to flag feelings without becoming emotionally leaky,” explained Fosslien. This means really looking at how you’re feeling, as a leader, and recognising those feelings. If you’ve had a stressful morning, if you’ve walked into the office or logged on feeling mad, express that. Flag it, let the team know in a calm manner, and move on.

“You don’t have to say too much,” added Fosslien. “It’s about letting the team know that they haven’t caused your bad mood and moving on.”

Fosslien and Duffy – the co-authors of the Wall Street Journal bestseller, No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work, are quite the experts when it comes to understanding the role of emotions in a professional setting. In their book, they look at the best methods navigating the high-tension playing field of 2022’s workplace and reveal how to express yourself in an acceptable way.

“Willingness in leaders to be open and honest, even if it makes them vulnerable, is important because it builds trust — people can easily sense inauthenticity,” Duffy told HRD. “However, people who overdo this accomplish just the opposite and can end up completely undermining themselves. If leaders share information that suggests they are not up to the task, there’s a good chance their team will take on that same emotion, or worse, lose faith in their ability to lead. People in charge have to think longer and harder than the rest of us about when to be transparent because they have more eyes on them.”

To hear more on how you can hone your emotions in a professional setting, watch HRD’s free webinar here.

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