Letting people see our Frailties
People that know me best compliment me least and people that know me least compliment me most.
Some compliments aren’t sincere. They’re flattery. A compliment is flattery when it’s designed to manipulate us. Flattery puffs us up so others can bring us down and elevate themselves.
It’s strange thinking that my long-term friends might complement me as profusely as new acquaintances. Long-termers know my unattractive side. They’ve seen me lose my temper or forget to follow through. It’s easy to compliment someone we don’t know when their warts and weaknesses haven’t emerged.
Putting our best foot forward is probably a good thing. It gives us a chance to create bonds before we push each other away. But persistently putting our best foot forward hinders vibrant life-sustaining connections.
Letting others see our frailties:
Some people dare us to like them by spot-lighting their weaknesses. Don’t dare people to like you. Don’t ask them to prove your worth before they know you. Give them a chance; give yourself a chance.
I believe our frailties and failures make us. Share weaknesses that are becoming strengths. On the other hand, frailties that currently defeat us are best shared with people that know and love us.
Share the process of growth that began with inability and ends with ability. We encourage others when we don’t wallow but emerge.
If you don’t share your frailties, you end up empty and even more frail and so do those around you.
How and when do you share your frailties and failures?
I appreciate and agree that our frailties and failures make up. And one should share weaknesses that have turned into strengths. when we share our failure to others, it provides up more confidence and we become more strengthen.
I share my frailties and failure with my trusted friends. I dot share these things to anyone. When I feel that failures overpower me and my strengths are weakening, then I share this. It relieves me from burden and I discuss on solutions. When friends share their suggestions, it really provide opportunity to work out on weaknesses. Sometimes, we don’t know whether we have weaknesses or strengths. It also happens that what you thing is your weaknesses could be strengths in fact. So, it is very crucial to know yourself. And the best way to know yourself is to seek guidance, accept suggestions and connect yourself with your inner-self.
I absolutely agree that flattery compliment is poisonous. Sooner or later, it will harm you. So, one should not fall prey to flattery. Person blunt on your face is far better than the person who flatters. Flatterers do not have their own base, they keep on changing as per circumstances. And fortunately, rolling stone gathers no mass.
Thank you for your comment. While reading it the thing that stands out for me is share you failures with trusted friends when your strengths are weakening.
I hadn’t thought of sharing failures in that context and in that way. Thank you.
Ajay is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ajay-gupta
You are correct, Dan. We should share our frailties with other people, they can be an encouragement to those around us who are struggling, as it is when others share with us. But the “when” and “how much” depends on the level of trust and respect in the relationship.
We cannot bear our souls to just anyone. We must keep in mind that there are many people just waiting to find our weak spot, waiting to take us down some imaginary peg they’ve see. These, of course, are people that we are not usually in true relationship with.
It is important that people see us as we truly are. It becomes exhausting trying to live up to false expectations; eventually you will probably stumble.
I find freedom in being who I am. Off course I can be “more” of who I am with those I trust.
Thank you for sharing your insights.
Hi Dan/Ajay ,
I am new to this column .Mr. Ajay Gupta is my colleague and he has inspired me to put some comment on the above discussion.
It is very true that flattery is harmful ,it may give you short term success, but for longer term it is your hard work and determination which will guide you to the path of success. But I am leaving one question to think ,if you have seen in practical life persons who are doing flattery as well as their work are more successful than the person who simply believes on their own hard work.
At some point of time either they are knocked out by their bosses before proving themselves.So sometimes , the situation arises where you have to do flattery to prove yourselves in longer run.But that doesn’t mean you are weak or not having the strengths , but it means you wait for the right moment to come before you are finished.
Thanks for thinking through some ramifications of these ideas and offering your insights and suggestions.
I hope you return in the future.
Hi Dan, I share my frailty with the people I love and trust. I also will unconditionally accept even if I don’t implement their suggestions for improvement. People that care about you and your happiness will proactively approach you and one does not feel threatened by them. Granted, stepping out of our shell to connect can make us vulnerable so not infrequenly we may suffer some, but growth comes at a price, and as long as we embrace, know and understand the source it may be bearable. That special circle I suspect is small for most of us. When I see friends that have much larger circles, I am happy for them, though challenged by how they “do it.” I see more compassion in the world today just look at Jopplin Missisippi, Japan, and Haiti just to mention a few. Perhaps over time more of us will leave the comfort of our shells and learn to engage in a more empathic, caring and loving brotherhood. Fortunately for me when the burden becomes too great I can reach out to my “soulmate” for support and when that is not enough to my God who always loves me unconditionally and forgives me for the sins I have yet to commit. Having been “burned” several times I am a little gun-shy to reveal all that lingers within but that is getting better. Dan thank you for making me stop and reflect on something I need to work on.
You are amazing. Every line you wrote drips with who you are and calls me to pay attention to the things you’re saying.
You are evidence that being who we are makes what we do matter.
Al is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/al-diaz
Good thoughts. I’ve only been blogging for about a month now, but it has been liberating in many aspects. Putting my name to a comment has caused me to carefully think through my thoughts before posting them.
I’m certain that I’ve become more open and transparent through this process. I do believe there is a fine line between showing our faults and saying too much, but I also know that people can learn much from reading about how we overcame our challenges.
Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you see the same tension between opening up and keeping private.
I think sharing weaknesses with others – beyond a close circle of friends – is useful if we have overcome them to some degree and it helps the people we are sharing with.
Poor-is-me doesn’t work.
I agree with you Dan. But I think we must know someone very well before sharing our frailties with them. As Martina said, there are so many people just waiting for the right time to strike on our frailties. We must not give them a chance in anyway even they strikes us with flattery. But most people, to the best, people close to us must be watched carefully. They know our frailties best rather than other outsiders.
There are so many things that I could say about this post on a “personal” level… so many thoughts are invoked by your words and how they relate to our day-to-day relationships.
Taking this on a professional level, and considering these thoughts from a “leadership” perspective, I can’t help but think, “Letting people see your weaknesses helps them realize we are human.” Too often leaders try to be the unshakable rock, the ship that is always on course, never to falter, never to question. While these are critical characteristics for leading an organization and guiding a team, I likewise believe that now and then everyone has an “off” day and it’s okay to sometimes let that show (within reason, and with an appropriate amount of balance).
It’s okay to let people know you are human. It’s okay to look to your team for support; they likely have more expertise or knowledge in some areas and can provide you with what you need to get you where you need to be. Your frailties are likely someone else’s strengths. Identify that. Own it. Adapt your process to embrace it. We are all human.
Your co-workers and employees already have most of your frailties figured out. By being open about them, you show integrity. I was taught to try to put people on my team who make up for my own shortcomings, and then make sure they know that I value them because they are more effective in that area. For example, I have trouble keeping my temper sometimes. This has gotten me in trouble in the past with government regulatory people like EPA and OSHA. I have a person on my regulatory staff who is very dispassionate, and she knows that I consider her to be far more effective than I am in that role.
My thoughts also say that by admitting our frailties, we aren’t really sharing anything new. People usually know our frailties before we do. By living openly with our frailties, and sincerely asking for help when they come up, thus creating a network, I realized what Greg said, “by being open about them (our frailties), you show integrity. Thank you Greg for bringing this out!
Love your point that they already know. They need to know that we know.
The moment I realize I’m wrong, I say the 9 most powerful words at the time: “I Was Wrong. You Were Right. I Am Sorry.”
Dan, I read this twice and that is because I am getting two different contexts. The first is a simple sharing of strengths and weaknesses. It is easy for me to make myself frail and say “I am impatient”. I can probably say that for most people I work with so like attracts like I guess. What I do not appreciate is when people veil a strength by coming off as frail (I get it a lot given I interview people for a living). It just comes across as the reverse manipulation you speak of above.
The context I am more intrigued by is the one that I sense Martina and Santosh above are referring to. I am a true believer in “Make yourself vulnerable”. This is in the case of saying, “I have no clue, I am at my wits end so help me out of this.” I get the sense that is where Martina and Santosh are saying you need to choose who you do that with, but I have won some and lost some when I did that. Point is, I know that if you take advantage of me, it is not going to be terminal for me, and you can be sure I will not do business or have any dealings with you going forward thereafter. You will be surprised at how often I have found support when I made myself vulnerable. It is not in the spirit of “testing” people I do that, it is more me running out of options and saying you are it in terms of giving me options that are viable.
Thanks, Dan, for sharing your thoughts that have stimulated mine. Your statement: ‘We encourage others when we don’t wallow but emerge’ resonates with me. Allowing others to view my foibles has been a daunting task for me most of my life. Through trial and error, I have discovered that lasting relationships are built on helping each other grow through those weaknesses. Leadership is a 2-way street… giving and receiving. Thanks for affirming!
Another topic that invites us all to look underneath our outermost layers of bravado. The image that most quickly came to mind when I read this was a passage I just read in Josh Sundquist’s book, “Just Don’t Fall.” He became an amputee at age 9 and went on (eventually) to be a notable public speaker and a champion athlete/paralympian (after all the adults said even running would be impossible with the type of amputation he had). The “how” of his potential failure was very public – it was his first time trying to hit a softball after the amputation. His first three attempts were “strikes.” The pitcher (pastor) said, “you’re not really out – we go on grace, not law here” (I am paraphrasing). Josh fell, hard, those first several times at bat. I don’t know how long it took for the bat and ball to connect, maybe 10 (?). But if he hadn’t tried, and if his community hadn’t supported him, the story would not have been the “home run” that it became.
I think the message that ties in to today’s post is that sometimes we have to fail publicly, have to take the extra chance that is given us, and have to grow from the experience.
(Josh’s website is http://www.joshsundquist.com)
thanks for your comment Paula. This inspiring young man certainly motivates me to “fail publicly, have to take the extra chance that is given us, and have to grow from the experience.” Very timely contribution to today’s post and to my daring to leave the shell. regards,Al
Ka Ching! What a powerful story. Thanks for extending the conversation and sharing an insightful and encouraging story.
Thanks for giving back.
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So, Dan, which do you value more…a compliment from those who know you well or those who don’t?
Seems odd (and perhaps sad) that we don’t get as many compliments from those who know our foibles all too well.
Really knowing that our strengths are also our weaknesses is daunting to say the least. Learning from that perhaps more so.
While a few may take advantage of PDF (public display of frailty) most would see this as genuine and honest, which as others have noted is the basis of integrity. A leader who does this is, at her/his core, saying, I am still learning and want to learn and grow.
How do I share my frailties? Depends on the person, depends on the depth of the conversation.
When do I share? Probably not often enough the more I think about it. Certainly can be more direct about it.
Hi Doc, Your comment regarding compliments hit a nerve with me. I feel that compliments from the folks that know me best will always mean a lot more since they are privy to all my “good, bad and ugly.” Secondly you are absolutely on the mark when you relate strengths to weaknesses. I know for me what in a particular setting may appear to be a frailty in others it might very well save the day, at least for me. 🙂 That being said as mentioned earlier do I always get it right when it comes to “bearing my soul?” H… NO, and I have the scars to prove it. My lesson is twofold, try to choose my confessor better and get some fire repellant because chances are it will happen again and I think that is the exposure we are all vulnerable to in leadership whether we want to admit it or not…….but does not deter the majority of us from looking at the big picture.
Oh if the healthcare field would just invent thin/thick skin replacements! Knowing when to wear which would still be a challenge though!
A compliment from those that know me well means more than it does from those that don’t know me well.
“PDF” … dang, why didn’t I think of that?
Thanks for adding value.
Doc is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at:http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/doc
The reason I asked is, sometimes those that don’t know us well have less of an agenda and are giving an off-the-cuff observation that may be relatively objective.
Those that work with us may have overt/covert ‘reasons’ for giving a compliment, thus more subjective. (Had one person I supervised, now is a peer, who always…always would ask…”been working out?” or “have you lost weight?”…took me about 3-4 times to get it. Certainly was flattering the first couple of times. 😉 )
Those that really know us, that is a different, smaller circle and won’t tolerate too much BS and give genuine feedback.
Maybe it should be PPDF…positive public display of frailty, because the intent needs to be from a positive frame.
Cheers Dan, on to today’s post….