Perfection is Unattractive
I know this sounds counterintuitive, but hear me out. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who seemed as if they were too “perfect.” Chances are you didn’t resonate with them. When we’re around “perfect” people, we can feel suffocated. Its because at a deep level we cannot connect. Unknowingly, we’re saying to ourselves, “I’m not perfect. This person is. They are too unlike me.”
Connect through Imperfection
The people you really connect with are those who let you know, in some way, they don’t have it all together. They share with you either consciously or unconsciously, their failures, shortcomings. At the very least they acknowledge them. Some can be vulnerable without saying anything. They communicate their own understanding of their imperfection nonverbally, through facial expressions, genuine empathy and compassion and this lets us know they are imperfect like us and we feel safe around them.
Be Intentional Vulnerable
Now, you may be thinking “Yeah, but Roy I do this already. My kids know I’m not perfect, trust me.” And you’re probably right. But do your teens know how much you know you’re not perfect?
This is an important distinction. The greater the power differential in the relationship, be it adult to teen, teacher to student (whether they’re teens or not), parent to child (regardless of age) the more important it is that we are intentionally vulnerable. To effectively influence anyone, especially teens, requires us to be aware of our position of power and intentionally bridge that gap by being vulnerable.
Vulnerability says, “I have the positional power, but I’m going to lay that down in order to be in relationship with you.” Vulnerability says “I know I’m right, but I’m going to be open to being wrong.” Real vulnerability says “I think I’m right, but I am open to hearing you and being wrong.” Being vulnerable is choosing to temporarily lay down your scepter of power. You can always pick it up again when necessary.
Ultimately, vulnerability is laying your “power” down so that the other knows that the power difference is about role difference and not a difference in self worth. Please read that sentence again.
Effectively influencing others require our willingness to be vulnerable. It does not require mastery, but it does require our willingness and initiative.