Let’s face it, this is something we’ve proven to be terrible at as humans. From saying what’s on your mind or how you’re feeling, to spamming emojis and swiping right. There’s just something about being truthful and vulnerable that we tend to struggle with, and it’s damaging not only to us, but everyone we interact with.
I’m speaking from experience here and I’m still working on this, so let’s dive in and see what we can unfold about the power of vulnerability and honest communication.
What is vulnerability?
“The ability to be susceptible to physical or emotional attack / harm.” So how could that possibly be good for us? One of the essential tools when forming deep/meaningful relationships is having the courage to be vulnerable.
When we’re willing to risk being hurt, or to speak about difficult topics, we find much more value in the relationship.
The point is, when other people see that we’re comfortable enough to share things with them, it opens up a pathway for them to open up to us. Courage is an important word here because you need to be aware of your imperfections and be willing to share your authentic self with others.
Personally, I’ve formed the best and healthiest relationships through being vulnerable and talking about difficult issues. It’s not to say that everyone is going to be respectful and engaging, but when you do find someone who’s willing to be there for you or you want to strengthen your relationship with, just be more honest about how you feel and what’s going on with you.
This ted talk explains it perfectly:
Be your authentic self.
We often find ourselves trying to “fit” in, constantly trying to meet the expectations of our peers or family members. This is where I think problems start to arise, within yourself more than anything. The identity dilemma of who you are vs who you’re supposed to be.
When you can’t be your true self, you tend to communicate based on what will please the other person. This creates a barrier, which airs the gap for miscommunication. Constantly trying to satisfy the other person or just agreeing with them won’t create a meaningful relationship, it will just create a decent friendship.
It’s through being honest and authentic about our desires and interests, that creates respect and willingness to cooperate.
There’s a saying in Arabic that goes “Respect yourself”, which is often meant in a derogatory manner. But I think it’s a beautiful reminder to people to genuinely respect themselves, because that’s what will help others respect them and in turn form better connections. If you haven’t thought about it already, self-love comes into play here too. When you learn to love yourself, it allows other people to love you even more.
Watch your ego.
Our good ol’ arch enemy, the ego. Learning to deal with this and humble yourself is another crucial aspect in effective communication. When you’re able to put your pride aside and actually listen, it goes a long way.
Our ego tends to block up our minds, when people who are younger or “less” knowledgeable than us give us advice. We claim to already know what they’re going to say, since we have more experience than them.
However truthful that may be, it still adds to the communication barrier and makes it more difficult for us to connect with each other. So just notice when you find yourself trying to end or move on from a conversation, which could actually benefit you, because of your pride.
Real life > Texting
Sliding into the DM’s, sharing memes, commenting on stories, sending emails, group chats. It’s the new age of staying in touch and communicating. I suppose what we don’t realize is that we miss out on an important humane aspect, emotions.
We just can’t properly express ourselves through emojis; laughing faces and broken hearts don’t cut it. It’s not to say that there are no benefits to digital communication, it just makes it a lot easier to misinterpret and jump to conclusions.
I’m basically emphasizing the importance of effective communication, and that even voice noting or phone calls would be a better alternative. Of course nothing will be more pertinent than real life social encounters. Make time for the people who matter in your life, and engage as much as you can with them in the present moment. Don’t allow your digital life and character to ruin your real life.
Something I think many of us struggle with, is to just listen. Our minds jump to responses as soon as people speak to us, but it’s important to first understand what they’re truly trying to say. Part of communicating therefore, is cultivating the skill of listening and deeply engaging, without cutting the other person off.
A lot can be communicated through silence too, for connections are made with the heart, not just the tongue.
To put it all in a bundle, there are many degrees to effective communication. Most importantly, allowing yourself to be vulnerable to connect with people. This will have a ripple effect, allowing you to be your more authentic self, and hopefully more honest with what you say.
Don’t let your ego get in the way of your relationships, and always make time for those who matter to you. I’ll end this post with a common quote that we should really try to grasp:
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
― Stephen R. Covey