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Communication + Leadership: Practice vulnerability

business communication Nov 07, 2020

When you’re emotionally connected you take action. It’s true in relationships, politics and social issues. It also shows up at work in the form of employee engagement. Doing good work might always be a driving force, but the motivation to continue doing good work comes from the connection you have with your colleagues, managers and leaders.

That’s where vulnerability comes in. When you drop your guard, people understand who you are, not just the plan you’re following or the work you’re doing.

It’s one thing to say you’re willing to be vulnerable and it’s another to get comfortable sitting in those moments where you’re really not sure how people will react. 

There’s a way to practice this and get better at showing vulnerability -  ask a question you don’t know the answer to. Like, really don’t know the answer to. The uncertainty in the seconds between that type of question and the answer is vulnerability. It’s admitting you don’t have all the answers, you don’t know every but that you’re willing to listen and learn.

That’s a different feeling than when you ask a question you’re pretty sure you know the answer to or can at least guess at what the answer will be.


As a sports broadcaster and sideline reporter, I ask questions for a living. I can tell you there’s a vulnerability in asking every question when there’s an audience, but when you ask a question you don’t know the answer to, you’re putting yourself out there in a much different way.

My job requires me to be in that position nearly every day. Preparation and research help, but there’s really no way around how it feels and that makes it easier for me to be vulnerable in other conversations.

Vulnerability is a skill everyone should develop, especially leaders, because emotionally connected people build stronger relationships and are more engaged at work.

Speaking of asking questions, keep an eye out for a new video series I’m creating on Asking Better Questions. I’ll take you through the process I use to craft strategic questions so you can communicate more effectively and make the most of the questions you ask on a daily basis.


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