“How are things going with the business?” I asked a friend recently over lunch.
“I guess the expected response should be ‘good,'” he replied. Then he quickly glanced at the other nearby diners and confessed, “I need to check if a client might be in earshot before I tell you how it’s really going.”
How refreshing that he didn’t just stop at “good.”
I often hear that word “good,” or even “great,” from others when I pose that question even though their eyes belie a less exuberant appraisal. Others are more stoic. You’ll rarely hear anything but “good” from them, often followed by the classic deflection technique: “How’s your business doing?”
Cat and mouse. The burden now shifted to me. Do I open up and say the truth or merely mimic their hollow response with one of my own?
Brené Brown in her book Daring Greatly, wrote, “Vulnerability is the last thing I want you to see in me, but the first thing I look for in you.” It’s one thing to use the “good” or “great” word in response to a drive-by, incidental encounter; quite another when the question and interest is genuine. Then we have a choice—dive in or deflect.
The answer to that question perhaps lies in the sage advice offered by marriage counselor Emerson Eggerichs. After an argument between a husband and wife, when both are left hurt, who goes first to break the heavy air of silence and offer a path to reconciliation? Eggerichs answer: The one who considers themselves more spiritually mature.
And so it is in any relationship where we want to build trust. Those who are more mature go first. They’d rather live in the freedom of vulnerability, knowing it may not be reciprocated, than wrapped in a shiny veneer of self-protection.
How does another’s vulnerability affect your willingness to be open?