I am watching videos of corporate leaders such as Indra Nooyi, Meg Whitman, Ginni Rometty and Sheryl Sandberg to learn how successful women communicate? There is a clear link between these women’s online success and the vulnerability they demonstrate. Their vulnerability creates connection.
So, it’s tempting for one to think, “I am also going to be vulnerable because that is what leads to corporate success.” Here is what we need to know – online success is not corporate success. To achieve online success, we’ve been advised to be vulnerable with our audiences; while that’s not wrong, being careful with where and when we become vulnerable is important.
Let’s take a look at an experiment by psychologist Elliot Aronson, who tracked the audience’s reactions to participants in a game show. When the high-performing contestants spilled coffee on themselves, the audience liked them more. They were competent and relatable. They were human and imperfect. However, when the mediocre performers did the same thing, people liked them less.
What this indicates to us is when we reach a certain stage in our careers and are considered high performers, our vulnerability and shortcomings make us more relatable and therefore, more likeable. Where mediocre performers are concerned, the research indicates a greater focus required to first gain a certain level of competency before showing vulnerability.
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