I started teaching vulnerability and the power of femininity years ago.
Since then, it seems like everyone is trying to teach it. It’s interesting how this thing that we all so naturally have inside of us has been forgotten. So much so, that it needs to be taught. Vulnerability has gotten a bad rap — at least it had until the wonderful Brené Brown gave her Ted Talk. Then suddenly all the world was on a quest to find it and express it.
But there is still an element of vulnerability that hasn’t been fully discussed, and that’s the subject of Cecilia’s letter to me today.
April, I love your tips for understanding men. I’m famous for not understanding them, so this kind of thing really helps. You refer to “vulnerability.” I hear this word a lot but I’m just not clear on what exactly it means.
You define it as being “being open, ready to share, able to give and to receive,” but I’d be so grateful if you could write a Sparks! post giving more detail on this. Perhaps some examples of a vulnerable response to a situation/question. Thank you, April, for your great work!
Cecilia, thank you for being such a dedicated fan of Sparks!
Here’s the truth: In order to be vulnerable you have to be willing. Yes, all the above that I have mentioned countless times in my audio programs and articles – being open, sharing, giving and receiving equally – that is vulnerability. But to your point, you need to know how actually do this. How do you put being this way into practice?
Telling you how to be vulnerable is a little bit like telling you how to feel or to breathe. It needs to become instinctive. To really benefit from my advice, I recommend you check out my Smart Sexy Soulful Dating™ Audio Series and also get on my newsletter list to be notified about next year’s events, because this is a topic we explore deeply!
But for now, let’s dive in.
The following are three verbal examples of vulnerability in a question/response scenario.
Example #1: A Man Tells You Something Personal.
He describes a tough divorce, the loss of a parent, the company he built that barely survived the tough economy.
Response: “I’m sorry. That must have been a really tough time for you. (Don’t rush!)
How are you doing now? (Wait for his answer!) What helped you the most when you were going through it?”
I caution you on this response. It must be authentic and come from a place of genuine interest. You’re not doing it to get a reaction but rather to have empathy, understanding and expressing that you’ve actually noticed and heard what someone has said to you. Being vulnerable means you can’t back away from emotion simply because you don’t want things to get sticky, do don’t gloss over his feelings or offer advice, just be receptive.
A life well-lived is based in heartfelt connection and communication. I know I can’t live a day without expression at this level!
Example #2: A Man Asks You About Your Family.
Whether you were dealt the perfect loving family card or one that you’d rather not talk about, it’s vital that you share. Being vulnerable doesn’t translate into talking only about your pain. It’s also about sharing your joy.
Response: “I have the most amazing parents in the world. They’ve given me so much love and support over the years. I just feel really grateful. How about you? What was your childhood like?”
OR: “My family has never been the best example of love and support. I wish it were different, but we all have challenges in our lives, right? It’s made me acutely aware of how I’d want to raise my kids.”
You are being honest, not spinning the truth. Sharing without an agenda.
Example #3. Ask Questions That Create Connection to His Emotions.
Staying on superficial topics like work, travel and interests will never allow time and space for true revealing and sharing.
Instead, ask a man how he feels about something. His job, his friends, etc. If he loves to golf, ask him what he loves about it the most. Is it the fresh air, the precision of the sport, the camaraderie with his friends?
Cecelia, this was a great question and one that deserves much more than a blog post, so I hope you’ll explore some of the other resources I mentioned above.
As always, all of your comments and participation on Sparks! continue to inspire and motivate me to keep sharing the advice I know will take your life to the next level. If you feel you’ve mastered the art of vulnerability, please share your story in the comments below!