Embarrassment of Vulnerability

Many people refrain from showing their vulnerability because they see it as a source of shame, guilt, and embarrassment. I want to share with the readers that it is such feelings that generate tension and make us more creative.

Hiding or denying vulnerability will not remove it as this act denies us the opportunity to deal with it when our vulnerability becomes evident in public.

All humans are vulnerable.

If you have overconfidence then you are vulnerable to feelings of superiority and doubting the abilities of others. Many people see a vulnerability of a person showing superiority for she/he is hiding low self-esteem.

If you are very brave then you might expose yourself to reckless acts.

SWOT analysis of self

It is a good idea to fill your own SWOT analysis with the realization that your strength might hide weaknesses below their surface. This raises your self-awareness. The problem is that many people see that exposing one’s weaknesses is a sign of vulnerability. It is important that even though this might be the case hiding vulnerability invites for a greater one.

Take for example a self-confident leader. If this leader hides vulnerability, followers will adopt the attitude that you hide and so we shall. If you reveal we reveal too. If hiding vulnerability makes a leader think she/he is superior the team will not give honest feedback, will rely on you to think for them or they may see you as an arrogant person. In all cases, the feedback loop breaks down.

You cannot improve what you hide or are unaware of.

You focus on hiding vulnerability rather than strengthening it.

You cannot get trust by hiding vulnerability.

You cannot enhance your self-esteem by not being honest in admitting certain vulnerabilities.

You may ask a legitimate question about the relationship between vulnerability-embarrassment. I say vulnerability has its tension and embarrassment has its tension as well. It is from this tension that you may generate creative ideas. I add it is also from the embarrassment you may generate fun by accepting it. No one of us is free from some embarrassing moments. You met a friend and you forgot his name. You discovered that after filling the tank of your car with fuel that you forgot your wallet at home. You addressed somebody in referring to the receiver she and turned out it is he. Vulnerability is part of our life and the first step to deal with it is accepting turning it into fun.

Vulnerability and embarrassment create tension with its creativity potential. You can be selective in exposing which vulnerabilities to expose. This exposure tells you that you are a human.


Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE


    • Exactly Cynthia Ann Leighton when we have the maturity to “Exposing vulnerabilities includes sharing and debriefing failures.

      Small failures help you grow.” we get stronger and we all win.

  1. I read today a post on LinkedIn shared from another website. The post is on “Three Dimensions of Leadership Agility”

    The following quote extracted from the post is in agreement with my post and that building on own strength only increases vulnerability.
    “Leaders will want to default to their strengths and avoid exposing any weakness.
    But in the same way that a tennis player can’t rely solely on a powerful serve, a VUCA environment will be less forgiving of rigid adherence to one’s strengths. Leaders need range so they can choose the best approach, not simply the one they’re most comfortable with. The decisive CEO will have to learn how to “not know”; the CTO how to “human”.