Trust, Vulnerability and Squishy Bits

I have become fascinated by trust and vulnerability. Trusting generously, and embracing vulnerability, is really hard and so important.

Writing this, for me, is being vulnerable. I find it hard to write what I mean [1] and am always worried that what I write will be misinterpreted. Please bear with me and don’t hesitate to ask me questions (I’m actually quite keen to talk to people about all of this). So, onwards…

Most people say that you need to take the time to build trust (and in the work place this seems to be synonymous with building credibility). I believe, however, trust is a choice. You can choose to give your trust, generously, from the very beginning.

Giving trust is an exercise in vulnerability. You are increasing your chances of being hurt by putting your faith in another person without testing the waters first.

Testing the water is often very sensible.

I have chosen to give my trust freely and generously to everyone I have met this year. This has been truly wonderful because I have had the opportunity to dive into more nourishing and supportive relationships than I ever thought possible (you amazing people know who you are).

It has also helped me be more effective at work. When I started a new role in February, I made a point of explaining this choice to my new team, colleagues and senior leaders [2]. It was often met with cynical disbelief, so I would explain that I thought trust and vulnerability were intrinsic to effective teams and collaboration (no one ever disagrees with this statement).

I would then put this into action by sharing my squishy bits: my weaknesses and strengths, what I was working to improve, and when I need help to be effective in a team. This really catches people by surprise, especially when I ask them to share their squishy bits [3]. But, so far, they have always been willing to share.

Dory finding her squishy. We all need to embrace our squishy bits.

has played a very important part in this journey. The network of supportive and inspiring people, who are passionate about empathy, have helped me embrace my squishy bits. wrote the most beautiful blogpost that gives you some insight into this wonderful community.

#OneTeamGovGlobal was a day of this trust, vulnerability and empathy in action. It was amazing, and there have been so many gorgeous reflections about it! I would like to write one too, but at the moment I’m still feeling overwhelmed by it and need more time to reflect. You can get a sense of the day here.

I believe embracing your squishy bits is powerful. In April, at a Breakfast, I participated in a very interesting conversation about resilience [4]. Resilience is often used to describe your ability to withstand hard times, like protecting yourself with amour. However, resilience is defined as your ability to bounce back and quickly recover. Being aware of you squishy bits helps you do this better. Embracing your squishy bits helps you do this more quickly and with greater self care as you can be proactive. This is powerful.

Do you protect your squishy bits?

I don’t think we talk about the importance or impact of trust, vulnerability and squishy bits enough. What do you think? Please reach out to me here or on Twitter.

[1] I have dyslexia and struggle to structure my thoughts on a page.

[2] Although always on a one-to-one basis because of the intimacy it creates.

[3] I also explain that I understand it may take them time to trust me and that this is okay because it’s a personal choice.

[4] and have both written gorgeous #weeknotes about it here and here.

All about empathy, imagination, getting stuff done, and the @oneteamgov community. Head of Research and Evaluation @NLC_HQ. All views are my own.

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