Vulnerability is the key to likability at work (and on the farm)

This is the last thing I should be writing on my blog. Because it’s now clear that the blog is a great dating tool. Propositions all the time. So I should not tell you this, but here it is: It turns out that I’m a lousy girlfriend.

Not the bad in bed type. Well, sort of. Because I’m game for anything, but only as long as I don’t have to be vulnerable.

At work, I’m great because all workplace vulnerability is based in talking—everyone gets to talk all the time—and I’m a very good talker. I can say things that would seem vulnerable, but really, talking is a way for me to constantly make sure that I am in charge.

The farmer likes less talk.

When I was with the farmer, the first night, and we were having intellectual banter about if he should date someone who will never move to the farm and never make him apple pies, I was winning. I won when we argued if he needed to call God “He” in a prayer. I told him that I read Hebrew, and in Hebrew the word for God is gender neutral.

So after a bunch of verbal sparring, I leaned across the sofa and kissed him. Even though he said he didn’t want to kiss. He kissed back, and I felt victorious.

Flash forward: To now. To me next to his bed, typing. Because he told me that absolutely today we were not going to do arguing in bed.

“But that’s my favorite thing to do,” I told him. In bed. Gearing up for an argument.

“Let’s just have fun,” he said.

“That is fun.”

“Let’s go running in the corn field.”

He loves that. He says he loves running in his fields because he’s a guy and women feel close talking and men feel close doing things. But I think he loves running in the corn because the corn is high now, and it makes you feel cozy, and he runs too fast for me to keep up and talk at the same time.

Ten million times a year I write about how people would rather work with people they like than people who are competent. And then everyone asks, “How can I be more likable?”

So I tell people the answer: “Be more vulnerable.” And then I suggest stuff that is easy for me but hard for most people: Admit shortcomings, confess stuff you are having trouble fixing, ask for advice on things you cannot figure out. If you let people see the cracks in your surface, that is where they will find a way in.

But in my personal life, this is extremely hard for me. So my own process for figuring out how to be vulnerable with the farmer is actually a good step-by step lesson on how to be vulnerable in any relationship.

Later, hours after the run, the farmer sits up in bed, head propped on a pillow. I am undressing at the foot of the bed.

I take down my pants and my underwear in one fell swoop.

“Hey. Hold it,” he says. “Do you even have underwear on? Why so fast? What about undressing slower?”

I think about it. I see he wants some sort of strip tease. Not the kind with a pole. But the kind that is sort of casual but has some zing.

It already took me three weeks to get rid of the underwear that could have passed for a bathing suit. So now I have the sexy underwear, but I can’t really use it. I’m very comfortable talking about it, not so comfortable seducing with it.

And then there is the bed. And we are on it. And I cannot cope. We are not sparring verbally. So I wait to hear him talk. He talks about things like the cattle, like my day. My meetings. The grass. His sister. Not small talk but not conflict. Something in between that surely is a building block of intimacy, but I cannot figure out how to do it.

I am quiet. And then, I think, he feels close to me because I am not arguing with him, so he rolls over on top of me and I nearly cry. From the stress of having to be vulnerable and intimate and not connect with words.

I want to talk about my meeting. We got a new board member and he was fun and he liked talking with me and I like when someone likes talking with me because I am so comfortable with that. He said there are not a lot of people in Madison like me and I took that to mean that when I told him that he was full of crap and he should talk to people with his heart, he liked me. I am good with words. I am good with talking.

People think I’m being intimate with the talking, because for example, I told the guy who I want to be on my board that I waxed off all my pubic hair because I read that 90% of Generation Y girls wax it off and I wanted to see what I was missing. So he thinks I’m all vulnerable and intimate with him and we are connecting, but look, I’ll tell that stuff to anyone.

For years I was the manager telling employees their career will tank if they don’t become more vulnerable with their co-workers. At the farm, I’m like my employees, but it’s the non-verbal stuff that flummoxes me. A hand on a chest. A peck on the arm. A stroke on the back. And no talking.

The farm is absolutely lovely right now. But I see the corn growing taller and blocking the views I’ve almost become used to. And I am worried that I don’t know what the winter will bring.

It all makes me nervous. And, like an employee who does not have the social skills for management, I wonder if I will get good at this girlfriend stuff any time soon.

Posted in Knowing yourself, No image, Office politics
106 comments on “Vulnerability is the key to likability at work (and on the farm)
  1. Andrew says:

    Mispelling public as pubic is so common as to be unremarkable but I think that’s about the first time I’ve seen pubic misspelled as public :-).

    * * * * * *
    Ugh. Thanks.

    -Penelope

  2. Joe Fusco says:

    Perfect. A personal story *and* useful advice. Glad to have you back, Penelope…

  3. Jessie says:

    Lovely. Love to hear about the farmer and your life, and there is possibly no greater joy than running through a corn field in the middle of summer with someone you love… Cheers!

  4. Anna says:

    You know, at first I thought you misspelled “pubic,” and then I thought that perhaps you really did mean “public”–but either way, I have trouble believing that 90% of my generation’s women do that.
    It’s so nice to see you blog again, so soon after yesterday’s. I always get excited when you pop up in my reader, because I know I’ll get something I haven’t read anywhere else.

  5. Diana says:

    Great story. Like anything, learning is what will make you a better girlfriend. Some days I wonder why my long-term boyfriend is still with me – believe me, there are some hell days! He’s there because he loves me and the good times overshadow bad days. Don’t be too hard on yourself…you are learning and I’m sure the farmer can see that. You are lucky to have each other.

  6. Erin says:

    And what, exactly, is wrong with stripping like you’re on a pole?

    I take pole dancing classes once a week and the effect that it makes me feel more vulnerable (because I’m not 5’7, 110 pounds like a stripper) yet I feel aggressive at the same time.

    I’m just sayin’…don’t knock it until you’ve tried it

  7. CreidS says:

    “Something in between that surely is a building block of intimacy, but I cannot figure out how to do it.”

    Its not doing; it’s being.

  8. Seeb says:

    Hey, Long time reader, first time poster… Great post as usual. Vulnerability is okay – connecting with people you work is awesome, yet, my anecdotal evidence says otherwise. I think I make myself vulnerable only when I know it will be reciprocated. That by itself is a catch-22 situation. However, one of the things that works well for me is just casual obseravation – does the peer in question treat people higher in the pecking order the same as his/her peers? ditto for sub-ordinates? I feel that organizational culture also plays a huge role here – does the culture ‘label’ those who admit mistakes? or is it ‘prudent’ to say that all mistakes are learning opportunities.

  9. Don B. says:

    Been a good year for moisture corn should be late. Does the farmer think he can get two hundred bushels an acre? Nice time of year to get lost in a corn field. Enjoy. Nice to have you back. Men like to talk just do not admit it. Be yourself and you will be fine. You really will talk about anything and it can cause some to think you are being more intimate with them than you intended. Exercise some caution with brazenness. Also be careful running in the corn with exposed skin, the leaves will scratch you maybe even draw blood.

  10. Brand Fanatic says:

    “This is the last thing I should be writing on my blog.”

    Is this your last post ever?

  11. Kendall says:

    Perhaps you can wiggle arguing in there under the farmer’s radar … have you tried talking dirty?

  12. Nikki MK says:

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a healthy debate. My husband and I have been married nine years and I cannot imagine being married to someone that would not want to go head-to-head with me.

    We’ve both learned a lot about ourselves, each other, and how to deal with other people in the workplace by having an honest disagreement once in awhile.

    We both care deeply for each other and respect each other, so when we come to consensus, there is some real value in having someone who knows you that well providing unfiltered feedback.

    I consider myself an unfiltered person, but the pipeline from brain-to-mouth has absolutely no blockage when you argue with someone you respect as an equal and know well. There is an intimacy in passionate conflict and disagreement, to know all sides of one’s partner.

    If this sounds like the person you are, then don’t feel there is something wrong for wanting to keep looking.

  13. Heather says:

    Great post. Kudos and good luck on your attempts at personal vulnerability! Sounds like the farmer is worth it.

  14. jrandom42 says:

    “It all makes me nervous. And, like an employee who does not have the social skills for management, I wonder if I will get good at this girlfriend stuff any time soon.”

    If history is any indication, probably not for a pretty long while.

  15. Denise says:

    man, i got stressed just reading about your try at purposeful quiet. been there. afraid to go back.

    re: the hair waxing debate — my gyno asked if my 15 yr old daughter shaved there — seems the MAJORITY of her 16+ yr old clients do shave/was. my 20+ yr old nieces verified it.

    who knew?

    * * * * * *
    Comments like this one make the blog such a good resource. Thank you for the field research to back me up :)

    -Penelope

  16. prklypr says:

    woo hoo! Two posts in 2 days! Not so sure this one fits into the “intersection of work and life” thing too well – seems a stretch to correlate dating vulnerabilty to striving to be vulnerable at work, but maybe you just opened my eyes to a new way of looking at it. The whole waxing thing was news to me, too – possibly b/c I am so far from Gen Y that I’m not even in the alphabet. Being a Gen Jones boomer, I’m often agog at what’s the norm today (@denise-for 15 yr olds??) but that’s why I love this blog!

  17. Alice Bachini-Smith says:

    Yeah, vulnerableness sucks. It does make the manly sort of man really like a girl a lot, though. Think of it as a whole new power tool?

  18. e0nline says:

    Work with many technical people? We’ll take competent over likable any day. The more competent you are, the less likable you need to be.

    That said, I still prefer working with friends. But maybe I only choose the hyper-competent a-holes as friends. :-)

    -E

  19. Sam Davidson says:

    “If you let people see the cracks in your surface, that is where they will find a way in.”

    Fantastic line…so appropriate and true in relationships, the workplace, etc…which is why you wrote it, of course.

    Our communities and their core building blocks (relationships) would be better (stronger, richer) if we all realized we’re each trying to build with the broken pieces of our own realities. But then again, that’s what makes a mosaic so beautiful.

  20. Chris Mahan says:

    Vulnerability at work is all nice and good if, and that’s a big if, you don’t feel threatened by the surroundings; in which case defensiveness is a natural and appropriate response.

    Want people in your office to open themselves up to new ideas, new ways of doing things, thus exposing themselves to potential criticism? Make it a very supportive, relaxed environment (think corn farmer).

    Love your posts, love your pics. In then end, though, be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you think other people will like. Just be yourself. Does the cold rain worry if the people below won’t like it? No, it falls, knowing the fields and the flowers appreciate it.

    Be vulnerable if you want to, but only when it is safe.

  21. Joselle Palacios says:

    “So he thinks I’m all vulnerable and intimate with him and we are connecting, but look, I’ll tell that stuff to anyone.”

    That reminds me of my best friend. She’s an extrovert and will shout out any crass, dirty thing to anyone. But she is not being intimate or vulnerable. She doesn’t let many people in. I think it’s good that you can acknowledge the difference between intimacy and TMI (your writing is most on fire when you do both at the same time).

    “Not the bad in bed type. Well, sort of. Because I’m game for anything, but only as long as I don’t have to be vulnerable.”

    Doesn’t that leave a lot out?

  22. Michelle (formerly Bloggrrl) says:

    Huh. This gives me some insight as to why I run my mouth at work all the time. As far as the girlfriend thing goes, I quit all the arguing/control stuff (well most of it, anyway) a couple of years ago. I am happier now. I wish I could tell you how it happened, but I think it is a “mellowing with age” sort of thing.

    * * * * * *

    I think there should be, maybe a coming out party for Michelle. Seems significant that you’re posting comments with your name. Your comments have always been good and now, somehow better.

    -Penelope

  23. Jessica Bond says:

    Hmm…I was married to a farmer for many years. Their chosen career is a life choice (a personal calling far deeper than others can ever hope to understand).

  24. Rachel - I Hate HR says:

    I’m glad you’re being more vulnerable with us.

  25. Dan Owen says:

    Yes, P, women who look like you get asked out on dates a lot. Do you feel beautiful now?

    It sounds like you’re beginning to see the tricky thing about branding: if it’s a lie, people won’t buy it. In your case, you preach this nonsense, about the importance of being vulnerable and listening and being nice, but aren’t capable of practicing it, AND THE MEN IN YOUR LIFE AREN’T BUYING IT. Your ex- has bailed out and the farmer is now calling you on it.

    “I nearly cry. From the stress of having to be vulnerable and intimate and not connect with words.” Yes. They don’t call it “vulnerable” because it feels good, but because it’s frightening and dangerous. It is risky: you can get hurt. (Ask Nino how he felt after you revealed in your blog his unwillingness to go down on you.) The worst is still ahead: the time will come when you will be practicing vulnerability and the farmer won’t reward you for it, he’ll punish you for it because he’s frustrated and has no patience: then it will be your time to practice patience, forgiveness, and not batter him because you have been stung. I suspect there were many, many scenes like this in your marriage, so many and so awful that Nino needed the word “love” defined for him in therapy when asked whether he loved you or not.

    Time to polish up the brand, P. Your target market wants you to shut up: shut up. Your target market wants you to let him get a look at you when you undress: remember how you were taught the importance of wearing a bikini back when you were a volleyball player? Get to work.

  26. Joey Asher says:

    Nice post on how to build a relationship. One of the best ways to build a connection with an audience is to tell personal stories. The more revealing the better. Those stories make people like you by making you real. Joey Asher

  27. Lance says:

    I like how you open up and share your personal life here – to me, that’s vulnerable. Maybe not to you, but that’s how I see it. And I think that’s good. It shows a human side (not that I didn’t think you were human…).

  28. Yu Ming Lui says:

    You’re definitely taking it to the next level with the farmer. There are always risks but what is life without letting yourself go and leaping for something great.

    Re Generation Y and waxing – ’tis a myth methinks. Women at all ages feel pain.

  29. patrick henry says:

    Dan Owen’s written the first comment that’s made sense here in ages.

  30. Aravindan Umashankar says:

    Penelope,

    I have been reading your blogs and havnet fealt the urge to write back in acknowledgement. Of the many bizzare themes from which you articulate precpective worth their weight in gold , this post about the farmer and you was quite provocative. Pun Intended.

    The underdogs have long been vulnerable lot or so the audience percieved. Little then is the doubt that people largely rooted for the underdog.

    I gain valuable personal lessons to bury ego and pompous persona deep down and show up more vulnerability.

    in doing so i transend.

    Lot me socialise this with my indian leaders and come back to you with a dip stick data.

    keep writing beautiful mind.

  31. Aravindan Umashankar says:

    pardon my horrible typos please

  32. Mark W. says:

    I think this post really does reflect your writing skills and your ability to communicate through words. It’s what you do well – especially while you are being genuine and authentic. I get the feeling this journey you are on is one of self-discovery and being true to your feelings. Not one or the other but both of them. Connecting and vulnerability can be achieved on many different levels and methods and you have given some examples in this post. People want to be likable and accepted for who they are at work and home. I think vulnerability is one of the keys of likability (but not the only one) and the one you’re concentrating on right now. I’m still mulling over being connected, vulnerability, and likability and their relationship to each other for my own life. Thanks for being a ‘farmer’ and providing us with some food for thought.

  33. chris says:

    100,000 Harley Hogs are expected in my town, starting today, and so “revving down,” which they are being asked to do by the community, comes to mind. PT, can YOU rev down?

    Sometimes, a lot of driven chatter is like ADHD . . . so I can understand that your farmer wants less of it. I am with a man who is pretty taciturn myself. I know full well that when I talk and talk it sometimes is my way of being in control.

    I’ll bet you know how to approach others according to their needs–I’ll bet you do it with your kids. You give them a chance to say or not say. You have probably learned not to go on and on with them, because you know it can stifle a kid’s voice, when the adults rains down verbiage upon him. With them, I’ll bet you have learned to wait to see what they will say–thus giving them the time they need.

    When the farmer talks in an easy-going way, not willing to spar, think of it as minimalistic poetry, spare, like the Haiku. Surely, you can become more comfortable with that style, if you’ve a mind to.

    CAK

  34. Lorraine Curry says:

    Isn’t love grand? And please change your photo. Embrace the new you inside and out. Good luck.

  35. Ruthie says:

    Penelope, vulnerability is something that is so easy to fake. As I was reading your post, it was like I was reading a page from my own journals from a few years ago when I realized that everyone felt close to me because I told them terribly personal things, but I felt close to no one because those personal facts did not touch who I was at my core, and that was the place I never let anyone into. You can spout personal facts about yourself all day long and debate great thoughts until you’re blue in the face, but you will not be any more intimate with those around you than you were before. To really be vulnerable, (at least I found in my experience) you have to let him see what scares you to let him see; the goofy little songs you sing to yourself in the morning as you’re getting ready, the way you feel that just a few more pounds off would make you happier with your body, the fear that if you stop talking and sharing facts and debating you’ll lose a part of yourself. That’s what I found to be the whole point of intimacy and vulnerability: loosing yourself. Trusting someone else with the parts of yourself you never let come out, the part of you that has no need to win an argument, the part of you that fears the quiet. Its no easy job. but good for you for learning that all the facts you share does not equal vulnerability. And thanks for sharing with the rest of us in your lovely style what you are learning about relationships.

  36. Maggie says:

    “So he thinks I’m all vulnerable and intimate with him and we are connecting, but look, I’ll tell that stuff to anyone.”

    I think the TMI talk is a way to pull a power play on men in your professional life. What man, if you were his female lawyer or business partner, would be telling you how his wife wouldn’t suck his dick right or how he shaved his balls? Maybe I’m wrong, but probably not many–and if he did he’d be seen as disgusting and sleazy. But for a woman to say those things isn’t seen as sleazy–it’s seen as ballsy and confident. I could be 100% wrong but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t get the same kind of reaction if your lawyer or board member were a woman–talking about sexual stuff wouldn’t be a power play if a woman were the opponent; instead of making you appear ballsy and confident it would probably just make you seem trashy, and/or would freak them out so much they wouldn’t want to work with you because they’d be too uncomfortable.

    I also think it’s telling that the thing you mention wanting to talk about after you take your pants off and get into bed is your board meeting. This time, though, it’s the opposite–while talking about sex with men in a business context gives you power, talking about business in a sex context is an attempt to take charge of that situation as well. Ditto the need to debate and argue–you want to assert your dominance, and, as you acknowledge, you can’t do that when you’re silent with a guy on top of you.

    The thing is–if you’re honestly wondering if you’ll be able to be good at the girlfriend stuff, I think that as long as you’re always the professional you, you won’t be. No offense or anything–I love you and think you’re awesome–but you yourself acknowledge that guys can’t get close to a woman who’s all business, all the time. A guy certainly doesn’t want to be hearing about your board meeting when you’re naked in bed and he’s trying to roll on top of you. Guys like girls who make them feel like men–girls who like to do the pole kind of striptease because they want to be sexy for him, because their being sexy for him matters to them. Not to sound like a 50s housewife, but it’s just a fact. Same goes for women, of course; what woman could really stay interested in a guy who just wants to talk about either his business or just himself incessantly and never just focus on her? She’d think he was a pompous asshole and tell her friends she couldn’t take listening to him talk about himself for another second.

    I’ll play dime store shrink and say that I think you don’t want to be “good at the girlfriend stuff” now because you’re not ready to be in a relationship. It’s like Mr. Big–just when he was getting close to Carrie he’d freak out and have to bail. You’re getting close to the farmer and it’s too much for you emotionally. I think you think you want to be in a relationship but all signs point to the fact that you really don’t. You definitely shouldn’t see it as a personal failing or something or think you’ll never be able to be a good girlfriend. When/if you’re ready you’ll be able to be vulnerable because you’ll want that closeness. It’s not something you can force–it’s your mind/body’s way of protecting you from something you can’t handle right now.

  37. KM says:

    Oy, can I relate. I’m a writer, so I’m all about connecting with words. People feel close to me, because they think I’m being vulnerable and honest. But for the last 18 months, I’ve been in a relationship with someone who isn’t a talker….and yet who knows me better than any of my previous boyfriends who were. This has not been easy! In fact, I’ve been fighting it for most of the time we’ve been together. It’s only in the last month or so that I’ve relaxed into it. It’s hard!

  38. Jake and Maggie G says:

    Have you tried handcuffs in bed to excite the farmer?

    Works for us every time.

  39. Jim Bell says:

    Have hope. Vulnerability is not weakness or a curse. It can be expressed by men too. For me it did not come easy. A father distant now for 25 years. A daughter lost at birth 13 years ago. A good friend turning away from me this year. It takes courage to let me people into your world; a small leap of faith every time you do. People take what they think they need. Some play well with others. Some don’t. Some turn out to be great confidants. Some are fools. It think the key is balancing your need for others with your need to fulfill your own creative intentions.

  40. Susan says:

    You wrote: “I read that 90% of Generation Y girls wax it off and I wanted to see what I was missing.”

    So, I have to ask. Did you find what you were missing???

  41. Jeremiah says:

    I’ve often thought that the inability to be vulnerable was the key to failed relationships. I see it with 30 something NYC women all the time. After many years of trying to be tough they are no longer fit to date.

    90% wax? It certainly seems to be a trend. My girlfriend is Gen Y but doesn’t wax completely (she’s a rare exception on many fronts. I find the Gen Y hype to be largely BS and a 20 year old woman is usually only tolerable when she’s naked and/or quiet). A grown woman should have hair on her p*ssy. thanks

  42. Lea says:

    Thank you for this. As a talker and a writer, I go through the same stuff — people think I’m very open because I’ll talk about anything, but what they don’t realize is that if I’m talking about it, it’s not THAT important to me. It’s almost faux openness: because my threshold for what I’ll talk about in public is so much lower than anyone else’s, it SOUNDS like I’m being all open and vulnerable when I’m really not. Even when I’m talking about how I feel about my Mom’s death earlier this year.

    The one place that I never worry about what I’m saying is with my fiance. It’s a relief to not talk and be with someone who doesn’t need me to talk. She gets me. Sounds like you’re opening up to letting the farmer “get” you — and that maybe you never let Nino in far enough to get there.

    I wish you success with this one. It ain’t easy.

  43. jrandom42 says:

    “You wrote: “I read that 90% of Generation Y girls wax it off and I wanted to see what I was missing.”

    So, I have to ask. Did you find what you were missing???”

    Mostly her pubic hair. But since it was missing, she couldn’t find it.

  44. Sidney says:

    I’m guessing those single women in their mid 30’s in NYC don’t really think you are much of a catch either Jeremiah. My experience is that the more a man complains about women, the less successful he is at getting them (and/or keeping them).

    Penelope…it is clear that you are at a crossroads. With Yahoo and the Boston Globe both dropping the “column”; it will be increasingly tough to call herself a career expert. And with your chosen milieu being Gen Y; how long can you keep that schtick going especially being in your early 40’s? And if the bloggersphere can research the inconsistent and aspirational past; imagine what the national media could do especially with the James Frey example as well as that woman in Oregon passing herself off as an LA gangster.

    What will be her platform for exposure going forward? Brazencareerist? Not unless they update the technology. Where is the social networking aspect on that site? Why aren’t the more photogenic bloggers doing their columns via video? Take your five best looking and articulate bloggers and package them as stars; not the unwieldy 50+ network you currently have.

    Yes, the niche is supposed to be Gen Y and their careers but by definition that is too limited a category (at present time) to be of much interest. Why not transition to a Gen Y focused online magazine or journal? If Gen Y is more than just the sums of their careers certainly a website focused on Gen y should be more than just about that same topic?

    Plus, make some of them reporters. Where are the pieces on the disportionate effects of our current wars on Gen Y? Where are the pieces on the effects of the economy? Where are the stories on the 60 +% of Gen Y not finishing college or the large percentage who didn’t even finish high school? Where are the stories examining a country who’s young people only have an 80% or so literacy rate?

    I fear your only choice is to go “dooce” on your readers and go for broke with the personal details. Relationships, kids, sex, whatever and cut out the career stuff. Post everyday, make them outrageous, whatever gets the page hits.

    And yet, it appears you have enough readers who care about you (and are not associated with BrazenCareerist) that they really don’t want you to do that. They like the titillating details but they like that you hold back enough to not be blatant about it (and yes joking and commenting about sex is not opening up to your audience, it is a cheap parlor trick).

    So where do you go from here? I don’t envy the pressure you must be under but I admire the tenacity with which you must have in order to keep all of the balls juggling in the air.

  45. MWA says:

    You wanted talking. The farmer said no to talking. He wanted running. You said yes to running. Read Chapter One (How We Connect Emotionally) in John Gottman's THE RELATIONSHIP CURE which argues there is a simple essence to human interaction, and it explains why you and the new board member moved easily toward connecting with each other.

    And, you're a poet. I suggest dropping the word “don't,” because you do seem to know.

    The farm is absolutely lovely
    Right now. But,
    I see the corn growing taller,
    And blocking the views
    I've almost become used
    To,
    And I am worried that I know
    What the winter will bring.

  46. Milena Thomas says:

    I don’t think we fundamentally change. Ever. If you didn’t get “good” at vulnerability and “girlfriend stuff” while married, I can’t imagine it would change now. Nor should it. There is no should.

    Your parallel to management is perfect. There is no reason someone who is not cut out for management should throw themselves into that position. It will be fruitless for them and their employees.

    Since you’re talking about farms, I’ll share a funny quote: “Don’t try to teach a pig to sing, it’s a waste of your time and frustrates the pig.” I think it’s the same in your career. Be yourself, let pigs be pigs, and we’ll all be happy on the farm.

  47. Danny says:

    Other then the great statistical news about shaving down under, you lost me Penelope. If you over think things too much, you lose the magic of the event. Just be you. You are great. I’m going to bet he knows this.

  48. Laura says:

    Great reminder about bringing your vulnerability to work. Feels like a dangerous thing! I’d be interested to hear opinions on where the line is with that.

    I heard of an executive coach who began executive team sessions by asking each person to share the story of a childhood experience that shaped them into the people they are. This helped participants to see each other as human beings rather than, possibly, adversaries and leveled the field for a more constructive work session.

    So I guess the vulnerability thing works. But how far is too far?

  49. Jennifer says:

    I gotta tell you, Penelope. The tone of this post really freaks me out. You like to talk. “The farmer likes less talk.” You have fun verbally sparring with people. The farmer likes running in corn fields. And “(you) wonder if (you) will get good at this girlfriend stuff any time soon.” Did you ever think that maybe it’s not you, but that you and the farmer are just incompatible?

    I was once in a relationship where I would have walked over hot coals just to hear his voice. I believe the feeling was mutual. When it was good, it was soooo good. But when it was bad, it was destructive to both of us at our cores. It was a painful process trying to be vulnerable with him because when I opened up, he didn’t really like what he saw. I was constantly on guard around him, walking on eggshells, trying to be the girlfriend that he, his friends, and his family wanted me to be. It nearly destroyed the real me.

    Then I met a man who not only does not judge me for my “failings,” but actually embraces them as another piece of my puzzle. And guess what? I was able to be vulnerable with him in a fraction of the time it took me for my other BF. 12+ years later, I’m still with that man, and it works because I like him for who he is and he likes me for who I am. Though we are both into growing and exploring ourselves as individuals and as a couple, we do not try to change each other.

    Yes, one should be open to learning new lessons from people, and the farmer may be just the one to give you a new perspective on things. When that teaching because pedantic, however, it may not be the best relationship in which to test your vulnerability boundaries.

  50. Ryan says:

    well said. i have to agree.

    While the word vulnerability may not be the word you want to use, the idea of being open to suggestions, asking for help, exposing your “cracks” as you’ve said can be very powerful.

    From a leadership position this is also very useful but should be exercised in care. I’ve believe that people think more fondly of those that confide to them. We are all infallible and being honest about this only shows your humanity and definitely commands respect.

    good observation

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