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Culture of Vulnerability and Empathy is a virtue at work place

There are some good reasons to have concerns. Many work places are emphatic deserts. the psychologist Oliver James argues that the business word in particular has an unusually high proportions of people who exhibit a "dark triad" of disturbing personality trades: they can be machiavellian, narcissistic, and even psychopathic.

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While many people feel they can be vulnerable with their partner or close friends, one place they often consider it taboo is in the workplace. Typically around half the people admit that they are reluctant to reveal their inner feelings and fears at the office. Can you really say in a meeting that you don't have the self confidence to run the project? can you let on to your boss that the reason you are falling behind with your report is that you have just been ditched by your girlfriend and are emotionally fragile? the answer may well be " No Chance" , especially if you happen to work in a macho environment. You might worry that people will think you are weak, or incompetent, or lack the mettle to be a team leader. May be you are anxious that taking off your mask could risk your chances for promotion.

There are some good reasons to have such concerns. Many work places are emphatic deserts. the psychologist Oliver James argues that the business word in particular has an unusually high proportions of people who exhibit a "dark triad" of disturbing personality trades: they can be machiavellian, narcissistic, and even psychopathic. Those with psychopathic tendencies, whom he describes as highly impulsive thrill seekers who lack empathy for others are four times commoner amongst senior executives than in the ordinary work force. IF you desk happens to be next to someone with the emotional sensitivity of Gordon Gekko ( The ruthless corporate raider from the film wall street who quipped lunch is for the whims), then you may be more than a little reluctant to express even a shred of vulnerability .

Brown's response it that we need to forge work cultures where vulnerability and the empathy that it helps to generate, are not just accepted but positively admired.

When vulnerability is not tolerated in the work place, we can forget about innovation, creativity and engagement. Those are all functions of vulnerability. You will never be able to convince that being vulnerable and human and getting good work done, are mutually exclusive. It is false dichotomy.

For example top entrepreneurs who say that the greatest barrier to pathbreaking new business ideas is that those who have them fear being ridiculed, laughed at and belittled by colleagues because truly innovative ideas tend to sound crazy. So vulnerability and creativity go hand in hand. Martial Rosenberg also makes the car for vulnerability at work, arguing that those who risk it often get positive responses, since a surprising number of people can be moved by emotional openness and honesty. Moreover, if you admit to uncertainty, it can give others the permission to do so too and may be you will discover that your hard-nosed manager is just as fragile and lacking in confidence as you are.

Disclaimer: This article was originally published on HappyHo and is republished here with permission.


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