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So what keeps us from being vulnerable? Brene Brown says it is shame. She defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” It is the fear of being disconnected.
In organizations shame comes out when people are too scared to share an idea, be innovative, provide feedback, or speak to a client. People are worried about being wrong, being belittled, or feeling less than.
She says that the way to move out of shame is to develop shame resilience. She says that shame resilience is being authentic about how we are feeling, moving through that experience, and coming out on the other side with more compassion and courage than when we went into it. It is moving from shame to empathy as sharing the shame with someone who can empathize with you is really the key healer of shame. She says that there are four elements to developing shame resilience:
Shame resilience is a way of protecting connection to self and to others, but often when we experience shame our emotions take over and we end up in fight or flight mode. We hide, withdraw, seek to appease, or be aggressive as a way to disconnect from the shame. She says the way to stay in connection is to:
We also have to learn to be empathetic with others in order to help them out of their shame. It can be a practice to support others, listen to others, and encourage others to see their shame and let it go. It is turning towards others that sets them and us free in the end. It is supporting each other through the shame and allowing vulnerability which is truly courageous both inside and outside the workplace.
Are you speaking your shame in your organization? Are you supporting people through their shame by encouraging them, inviting a risk-taking environment (e.g. - allowing failure), and staying open to feedback? These are all things that will build a culture of creativity and innovation in your organization so begin to lean into shame resiliency today.
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.