Embracing Vulnerability and Being Your Authentic Self 

In April this year we held a powerful webinar, all about taking your vulnerability and making it a superpower. 

In April this year we held a powerful webinar, all about taking your vulnerability and making it a superpower. 

For too long, showing your vulnerability has been seen as a weakness in our male-dominated industry. 

Our WiEA committee member, Amy Shields, was joined by Jo Bourne, owner of Impact CTMD and regional advocate for Yorkshire. Their special guest was Holly Marshall, who built a career in our industry, and now works as a leadership, business and career development trainer. 

During this frank and open conversation, they shared some valuable insights that we’ve summarised and explored below: 

Choose Your Own Mindset 

Holly set the tone for the session by talking about a phone call she received that completely changed the direction of her life. 

It was the start of an incredibly difficult period, yet how she reacted to it was her choice. 

She reminded those listening that we’ve all got a personal choice when tough times come our way. You can choose to make it work for you or against you. 

Listening is an Underrated Skill 

One major takeaway from the conversation was that listening is a highly underrated skill in all areas of life. 

We learn at school to read and write, but we don’t truly learn to listen. 

Try being an active listener, without the intention to reply or without thinking about your pitch. You can learn so much from what is being said, but also from what is not being said. 

Amy explained how writing down notes can be a useful way to demonstrate that you’re actively listening. 

Using Your Vulnerability to Your Advantage 

Once the conversation led into the area of vulnerability, Holly said something that really resonated: 

“Being frightened of silence is normal as a sales person.” 

However, Holly suggests just pausing for a moment. Picking up on Amy’s point, she said that if you’re writing notes you’re not talking, and it gives your brain a chance to think. 

It can make you feel vulnerable, but it gives the other person chance to breathe and think, too. 

Holly shared that during her time as a sales agent, she would often lose confidence before even getting out of her car for a visit, convincing herself that she wouldn’t succeed. She believed that by expecting failure, she could avoid disappointment if things didn’t go her way. 

Believing in your potential success can be a vulnerable position, as it opens you up to the risk of disappointment. 

Instead, adopt a mindset geared towards success, allowing yourself the opportunity to celebrate your achievements. Your attitude going into a valuation is a deliberate choice. Pause, reflect, and choose to set yourself up for success. 

Jo agreed, reminding the audience: 

“We don’t drive to valuations, we drive to instructions. What’s the point of going twice? You’re going there to get it.” 

Getting Clients to Show Their Vulnerability 

Part of showing your vulnerability is being comfortable with your clients doing the same. Our hosts and guest shared their go-to question during meetings: 

“Can I ask how your last moving experience was?” Amy explained that they could have had a terrible experience where they lost money or a chain break, and you can tailor your proposal towards that. It’s also a question that gets people talking and encourages them to open up. 

“What’s the most important thing I can do to help you move?” Jo said if they haven’t got an answer that’s ok, however it demonstrates that what they want is important to you. 

“Just shut up.” That was Holly’s advice! She highlighted how when someone starts to show a bit of vulnerability, that we start plugging that gap or changing the subject because we feel uncomfortable. It’s more powerful to let your clients show you whatever they need to show you. 

They then discussed how this might look for Suppliers/Proptech people: 

“What would you like to get out of this meeting” Amy had recently been impressed by her team who had felt uncomfortable with calling their pitch deck, a “pitch” deck. She explained that within her business, they don’t pitch, they take a consultative approach and have a conversation. 

“What are your drivers? Why are you on a call with me today” You’ve got to get to the pain points you can relieve and build trust. We’re creatures of habit and we get used to following the same script over and over again, but we shouldn’t, we should be tailoring it to our customer. 

Be Authentic 

The big takeaway from the discussion of how to be more authentic in the workplace was to stop saying sorry! 

Holly: “I used to try and hide the fact that I’m slightly unhinged and now I celebrate and enjoy it. Don’t apologise. We’re really good at saying I’m crap at that. I don’t apologise for it anymore. If you haven’t got anything to be sorry for, don’t apologise.” 

Jo: “Don’t say sorry. Turn it into a thank you. We’re great at saying sorry. It’s all about gratitude. It’s all about your mindset. It has a massive impact on how you feel and how you choose your mood. You choose how you respond to something.”  

Showing Vulnerability in a Male-Dominated Workplace 

Our hosts ended the conversation by exploring what showing vulnerability looks like in a male-dominated workplace: 

Jo: “I realised that the way I led my team was right, I led with empathy and kindness, and I was criticised for that…I’ve dialled it down many times to fit the audience, so I wasn’t made to look like I was weak. Because I cared about people, I felt that was the wrong way to be. I’d love to go back and be the person I am now. I think it’s a strength. Being kind doesn’t mean you’re not being firm, it’s the choice of words and behaviour.” 

Holly: “In meetings I would think ‘what would a man say’, I would change what I was going to say… I have changed. Having a diverse workforce is not having everyone thinking or working like a man…just be you.” 

Help and Support 

If you’d like to watch the conversation in full, then visit our webinar page and you’ll find the link, plus links to our other previous webinars.  

You’ll find the LinkedIn profiles for Amy, Jo and Holly below. They encouraged anyone who needed support to reach out. 

Amy Shields – https://www.linkedin.com/in/amy-shields-03b430a7/ 

Jo Bourne – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jo-bourne-775b9954/ 

Holly Marshall – https://www.linkedin.com/in/holly-marshall-8290092a/ 

We also have a Help and Support page on our website – don’t struggle alone, there are a team of women in your corner. 

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