Because of our desire to be loved, admired, and accepted, we spend a lot of time trying to “wow” others.
Unfortunately, the irony of this desire is that in trying to impress, we act like the very people we find unappealing.
In particular, we do two specific things that drive people away. We wear masks and build walls.
For example, we work to project confidence and strength even though we’re riddled with fear and self-doubt. We list our accomplishments hoping to be seen as worthy, intelligent, and important.
Sadly, for all our efforts, we sound arrogant, self-centered, and unapproachable — the very qualities that make people want to keep their distance.
The key to connecting with another person
Open up and make them comfortable.
For example, if you want to bond with someone, you need to be willing to show your vulnerability.
People like authenticity, and the truth is there’s no one alive who doesn’t have embarrassing habits, quirks, or experiences.
So don’t be afraid to share some of these things if you want to deepen your relationship with someone.
“Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. The new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open.” — Stephen Russell
Vulnerability attracts people because admitting your flaws makes them feel safe enough to reveal their weaknesses.
For example, I met one of my favorite people last year. She was a new teacher at the school in which I teach, and like new acquaintances, our conversation was superficial at first.
However, the turning point came one day when she entered my class before school. My daughter, who attends the high school I teach at, was there with me when she came in. She saw my daughter sobbing. A group of “popular” boys had ridiculed her for a bout of pre-menstrual acne that recently popped up on her beautiful face.
My co-worker hugged her and asked what was wrong, so my daughter told her.
When my daughter was finished, my co-worker admitted that she also struggled with acne and was teased daily.
At that moment, my daughter bonded with her.
She revealed her flaws, making my daughter more comfortable expressing her feelings. It also made me more comfortable. For example, once she admitted her struggles with acne, I confessed I hated my freckles. I also admitted they were the butt of hurtful jokes that still haunt me.
So tell your co-workers you screwed up at work. Tell your friends you bite your toenails (Okay. Maybe not that secret). Tell your blind date you were nervous as hell to meet them.
Then, watch them become more relaxed, open, and talkative.
The bottom line:
It’s scary to open up to someone and be vulnerable. However, it’s also one of the most effective ways to be more likable.
The truth is all people want to take off their masks and be honest, so take your own off first. Chances are they’ll do the same.
Trust me. They’ll think you’re a rockstar and keep coming back for more.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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