April 12, 2019

When Being Professional Doesn’t Help

We both turned to admire the silver horizon which ached our eyes, standing here in this cove near Byron Bay.

Over yonder, to our right, we could see the lighthouse, marking the most Eastern point of this continent we call “Australia”.

This morning, the plunging seas had revealed playful, leaping, hunting dolphins.

Then, he turned and smiled at me, as he started to share his story.

The moment when he met that “beautiful lady” over there.

It was a tender funny tale of being far away from home… standing in a bar with dear friends. And there, in a circle of new acquaintances, standing opposite the girl who was standing in that bar, only by accident… far away from her home.

He might not have asked her for her phone number.

He might not have recognised that a digit was missing, and trotted painfully down the road after her (having only recently injured his leg).

She might never have assented to complete the missing digit of the number she did write down.

But he did.

And she did.

And here we were, looking at the bright blue eyes of the baby boy, chuckling as he stumbled around the grass and paving stones of this popular, romantic wedding venue… to prove the story.

Then we looked at each other once more, and this tall, confident Australian football-playing fellah said to me:

“I never knew how scary and wonderful it could be to be totally responsible for another human being like this.

I never knew it was possible to feel any of this.

Nothing I’ve learned prepared me for how I feel about this child.”

And we went on to agree that such momentous parts of our life turn on such tiny moments of seeming accident and serendipity.

As we parted temporarily to talk to others gathered there for The Rehearsals, I thought of his courage in talking to me with such intimacy.

Vulnerability takes courage.

It is one of those important facets of empathy: opening up, so that others can see who we really are.

What’s interesting is how many of us men in a business setting struggle with such vulnerability.

We wrestle with expressing the simplest of feelings during a business conversation, particularly if asked directly to do so.

We’d much rather talk about events and projects and technology and the things that people do and did. 

But feelings? Whoa!

It is as if we think that to be “Professional” requires that we become a “Suit”: an artificial representation of who we are. A careful act, supposedly designed to impress.

Yet “The Speed of Trust” depends precisely on the shedding of such facades.

Indeed, vulnerability – letting the listener get past your guard and into your heart – almost always engenders Trust more quickly.

After spending many years studying the concept of Developing Trust.

I’ve distilled what I’ve learned to just 6 principles.

(There might be more; but 6 is so easy to remember).

Here’s one of them that I’ll share from my new-found friend in Byron Bay:

“Want to quickly develop Empathy and Trust with someone new to your life (perhaps a future client)?

Try Practicing The Courage to be Far More Vulnerable Than You Are.”