In my earlier post, I mentioned that we must get vulnerable with our clients in order to build trust. This post focuses on the second step that hinders trust which is fear of being embarrassed.
When I was in the final week of kindergarten preparing for graduation, my teacher, Mrs. Depew, sternly warned us to hold up our gowns as we went up the stairs in the auditorium so we wouldn’t trip on graduation night. I didn’t really pay attention during rehearsals, but (surprise, surprise) was constantly talking to my friends around me. Trying to win friends and influence people, I guess.
Well, the big day arrived and the auditorium filled up with parents, siblings, and grandparents who were excited about seeing their little one get that diploma that required knowing letters, shapes, and numbers. I remember waving excitedly to my family as I walked down the aisle, and they waved back. I was beaming from ear to ear with my blue graduation cap and bow tie and white gown. Unfortunately as I went up the steps, I tripped on my gown, and my bow tie untied.
Well, I held my fragile emotions together until I reached the church’s choir loft, and then I started crying. The girl next to me offered to fix my bow tie, and I turned four shades of red from embarrassment. I then recalled Mrs. Depew’s warnings about holding up our robes. How could I ever face the public again?
Most of the time, our embarrassment is blown way out of proportion, and we feel as though everyone is looking at us and laughing at us. This phenomenon is called the spotlight effect which says we think that others are paying more attention to us then they actually are. Research also shows that people who become embarrassed are more likeable. I hope that’s the case.
Fear of Embarrassment
Nobody wants to be embarrassed, but in order to get vulnerable with our clients, we must face this fear of embarrassment. I’m not talking about the fear of walking into a meeting with your fly down or having toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe, I’m talking about a fear of embarrassment by not having all the right answers. I’m talking about the fear of being proven wrong in public.To prevent embarrassment, leaders play their cards close to the vest, don’t share information with others, and don’t allow participation in decision-making. Click To Tweet
To prevent embarrassment, leaders play their cards close to the vest, don’t share information with others, and don’t allow participation in decision-making. Unfortunately, this causes more work for the leader, as they are afraid to delegate, and employees don’t want to share their ideas. Arrogance breeds a fear of embarrassment.
Creating a culture where mistakes are celebrated as learning opportunities, risk taking is encouraged, and stupid or obvious questions encouraged will help mitigate this fear and lead to higher levels of trust in leaders’ relationships. This “nakedness” lets your clients know that you are just as human as they are, and no question is too dumb to ask.