“It is very inspiring to see our boss as a strong personality, but it would also be okay to see your vulnerable side sometimes. It is scary to have someone who is not broken by anything“, said one of my team members a year back. I thought about all the vulnerable side of me and smiled inside. “The girl who would cry instantly if you raise your voice, the girl who is lonely after her sister passed away, the young mother who had no clue on how to manage career, family life and health after the first child : to the strong woman who seem to have no vulnerable side in 2023 : not bad Narmi”, I thought to myself traversing my journey nostalgically. But this blog is not about how to be vulnerable – it is about being safe in the journey of vulnerability. Have you googled the definition of vulnerability ?
Vulnerability : noun
- the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”conservation authorities have realized the vulnerability of the local population”
The definition talks about the exposure , the possibility of being attacked – but by who ? That is what this blog is about. While one side of the society is encouraging us to be human, also by nudging leaders & role models to show their vulnerable side to inspire others, still there is a dark side to this, created by same species human, who dwell on such weak moments of others. Example : I came across this family who appeared stronger, confident, who knows how to be upper hand under any circumstance, be it a get-together/ planning a trip/ decision making in the group. But later I discovered that they had no one back at their roots who cared about them. They are lonely tribe who are fighting their way out of their vulnerable circumstance. In order to patch up this emotional leakage they went through, they created this. strategy – to hang around younger groups, juniors at work, to provide free advice, to create the role- model image to preach ‘this is how you lead a perfect life’. They never talk about their insecurities or dull moments. However they were also fighting their demons, tough parenting stuff, job insecurities, health issues, financial crisis etc. I don’t blame them but this is a typical persona of vulnerability vulture. They are usually interested in the problems of others life. Oh they are great listeners, they know the right prompt questions to help you open up but they would be waiting to pounce upon to show their perfection over your life. There is not just one target for them but their entire social circle would be younger and vulnerable, so they can dwell upon being ‘wise’ ones to be looked upon. They are not guiding you. It is a self medication to soothe their pain buddy. Beware.
Another example in a professional context : This very much is a common scenario & we recently found many relevant scenarios in a networking meet across organizations. That judgmental colleague who can create a comment for whatever is happening at your work life : ‘oh, you are always busy on calls’, ‘hey you don’t have any fun huh,’, ‘hmm, lucky you don’t have a task that’s tough like us, easily compliant’. Sometimes, they can get into next phase saying ‘don’t be workaholic’, ‘you have no idea how my work situation is’, ‘if you had problems like this, you can’t survive like I do’, ‘I wish to collaborate but I am not lucky like you’, etc etc. You might be wondering what is this comment all about, or if you have less brain space like I used to, you wouldn’t even notice, until there appears a bubble of work politics. Ohhh kkk aaa yyyy ! Let me stop the explanation here. The blog is not just to gossip about such vultures, but like I always do in my articles, here are simple seven tips to deal with the vulnerability vultures both in your personal and professional lives :
- Confront : While the vultures exactly know where to poke and prick you, you must own your respect and have a direct discussion as first step. Trust me, beating around the bush doesn’t work. Few opening lines that have helped me confront are ‘ I don’t like the way…’, ‘what do you mean when you said…’, ‘why do you think…’, ‘is this bothering you in anyway…’, ‘I never asked for this advice, I am ok to be me… ‘
- Cut the sweet talks : The problem of weak moments is that our soul finds it tough to talk stronger. So, we end up doing ‘reverent and respected vulture’ mode. Stop that. You don’t have to smile, take the first greeting, try hard to justify, even invite them for coffee to show how sweet you are. Sweet or sour doesn’t matter – vultures are hungry and you just don’t fake around to be an easier prey.
- Don’t prove your point : Common mistake we all do is to explain our side. Example : when I published my first book ( I had a full time job and was a mother of 6 year old + 1 year old with no additional support system home) who worked hard towards my goal. But, there were vultures who commented ‘ must be your job is easy , your husband should be doing all the work, you got a boss who really likes you’ – I was hurt deeply, I went around explaining every scenario, about how I struggled yet worked hard – until I realised I was exhausting my energy and stopped reacting. Pooh, they couldn’t enjoy more because they had no opponent for their game. So darling, just don’t exhaust proving yourself.
- Be YOU everywhere : Now the number of such personalities around you can play a big role in your mental stability. One or two is easy to ignore, but toxic environment will affect you being true self. Please remember, it is okay to lose an entire circle of vultures to ensure you don’t lose YOU.
- Focus on your next step : And hey, life is not just about people who are there to hurt you. Have ambition, write your goals, work towards your next step, carve your journey and don’t miss to celebrate.
- Draw the line : ‘hey you never added me in the committee ya’, ‘you dint tell me about your promotion / new place / summer plans’ – when they nudge you beyond the line, remember : you draw a strong line and unless absolutely necessary, you don’t have to stretch the space, because it will affect your mental peace for sure. I learnt this from Swedish culture and mindset and is absolute treasure.
- Don’t stop being vulnerable, yet stronger : Does this experience of people taking advantage of your weakness scare you? Pause., take a deep breathe, smile. No human is left without a vulnerable moment. If you overcame yours and can guide others / can ask for help to overcome without letting vultures prey at you, why be scared ?
And you have 7 tips here to help you navigate your vulnerability with strength. Embrace the beauty of imperfections in life, owning your self respect and space 🙂