Last week I wrote about someone being disappointed in me.
Today, I want to talk about how you can disarm disappointment with vulnerability.
While that event was bad in itself, the worst part was that I had to wait almost a week to talk to them about it. I don’t know about you, but time stands still for me when I’m anxious for an event to pass.
This means that I ended up doing nothing productive with my time up until I had my call.
I was in a self-imposed prison.
The one thing I told myself to do was to remove myself from the equation so that I could leave my emotions behind during the call. And while I was able to achieve that and look at myself objectively, there’s one more strategy I applied to take the pressure off.
I’m a strong proponent of being honest with others as that’s what builds strong connections, but in order to be honest you have to be vulnerable.
This is why I immediately used vulnerability to disarm disappointment.
Instead of waiting for him to reprimand me, and to walk me through his e-mail (once again), I took control of the situation and said this:
“I want to thank you for the feedback, I had a good cry about it.”
There are two takeaways right there.
The first takeaway is that he didn’t feel like I was attacking him because I opened up with how I felt about his feedback (even though I’m passively reproaching him). And the second takeaway is that I changed the narrative and the direction of the conversation because I was the first one to say something about it. I probably canceled any thoughts he had jotted down or things he wanted to tell me.
I continued to say that his feedback was well-deserved and that I understood where he was coming from completely.
Now, put yourself in his shoes.
How would YOU react to that?
You’d pull back right? You wouldn’t go on the offense when someone just admitted that they were hurt by something you said. No matter how ready you were to give it to them one more time. Give it to me baby, uh-huh, uh-huh…
This strategy (disarm disappointment with vulnerability) works to calm all parties down because in case you haven’t noticed, self-awareness is in short supply these days. If you’re the one that acknowledges the situation as it is, instead of going on the defensive immediately, you take the tension away.
I could have given him 10 excuses, but that would have made him put up a wall. I wanted to avoid that.
So think about this the next time you have to face someone you don’t want to because of what they might say.
This also works when you have social anxiety and you’re worried that it’s visible for the world to see. It probably is, so let the world know. Own up to it and be vulnerable. Not only will you feel more relaxed, but those who are around you will soften up.
Until next time!