Friday 23 October 2020


This morning, a fellow coach, Christina Gates, posted a very personal entry on her Linked In feed. I commented on how good it was, and she replied that it had been hard (and important) to write.  I really felt for her, as it was a very vulnerable expression of her feelings. And I reflected on the different emotions that accompany vulnerability. When we are considering making ourselves vulnerable, we often feel fearful: as Christina said, it is a difficult thing to do. Yet when I read a post like that, I am almost always left feeling greater admiration for the person who wrote it than I had done previously. And I suspect that is true for many people. There is a curious power to vulnerability; not least because we recognise the bravery that sits behind it.

My thinking then went on to some of the feedback I got from the EI 180 I did recently, and to which I have referred in previous posts. One of the messages was that I could use less self-deprecating humour.  My justification for such humour is that I hate arrogance (and I am aware that is a risk for me: that I can be quite proud, and that could easily translate as arrogance). Self-deprecating humour, I would maintain, prevents that.

But now I am wondering. Is it perhaps, in my case at least, a defence against feeling vulnerable. If I have named and laughed at my own foibles or inadequacies, I suspect that it makes it much harder for others to give me feedback on them: it is disarming in a rather self-serving way.

I was reflecting on this with a colleague this afternoon, and at the end of the conversation, she paid me a compliment. I responded with some self-deprecating humour - even though I had been discussing with her just minutes previously my intention not to use it. And she was good enough to call me out on it, which was extremely helpful.

And I am interested in reflecting on that, too. It suggests that not only am I uncomfortable with criticism, I am uncomfortable with praise, and use self-deprecation to address that discomfort too. Is it intimacy that makes me feel vulnerable, then?

Yet I am aware, too, that I do make myself vulnerable on occasion. So there is something about context that I need to understand further.  And I need to keep a close watch on that self-deprecating humour, too!


Thanks to Ava Sol and Nik Shuliahin for sharing their photography on Unsplash

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