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  • Julie Jenkins

The V-Word & My Quest to Be More Me at Work

No...It's not what you think. The other v-word. The one that makes everyone cheer and say "Yeah, right on! We need more of that at work", yet, are ashamed to embrace it and actually say it out loud.

Case and point:

I was recently facilitating a workshop on feedback to a group of leaders. These leaders were using feedback as a way to enhance and elevate their performance conversations with their staff.

To help warm us up and get those feedback muscles primed and ready to go, I asked the group to engage in a short activity of giving and receiving positive feedback. My invitation was straightforward. "Let's practice the giving and receiving positive feedback."

To make this whole exercise 10x easier and to remove any chance of someone saying "I can't think of anything nice to write", I wrote down the positive feedback on tiny slips of paper. All leaders had to do was pick three slips of paper, make awkward eyes with someone across the room and deliver the slip of paper.

Just before we started, a woman raised her hand and said "This slip of paper isn't positive nor is its positive feedback. I simply cannot give it away".

Frantically, I mentally ran through each of the slips of paper. Nowhere in my memory bank could I find a slip of paper that was negative. Panic began to set in as she handed me the piece of paper, to confirm her initial findings.

Opening the small bit of paper up, I read:

"Self aware and vulnerable".

And there it was, the V-word: Vulnerable.

Here's the problem folks. We can cheer all we want for being vulnerable in the workplace. We can celebrate all the ways in which vulnerability gives us wings and makes us better people. But if we cannot even say the word, how the hell do we have a hope of bringing this to the workplace? If, when we look at that word we think, oh gawd, please no, not me, everyone else but me, we have no integrity. We cannot cheer on vulnerability in other people if we aren't willing to live it ourselves.

So, everyone together now, say it with me, loud and proud:


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