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The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics

Oct 21, 2022

Many companies and managers have prided themselves on being strong, always showing confidence in the face of any crisis, and ensuring that people never show weakness or vulnerability. But is this the best approach? Does unwavering strength make a team stronger? Does exposing your weakness increase the likelihood that people will use that against you? What is the best path for a company and how should it encourage its teams to act?

That answer is coming to you as we dig into the episode and learn all about vulnerability loops and why they are so critical for fostering strong teams. 

Show Notes:

  • [00:40] Today is a very exciting episode talking about something really critical for fostering strong teams – the vulnerability loop
  • [02:46] Before we get into the model and what a vulnerability loop is, I want you to take a moment and think about the people you are most closely linked to – those you have a really strong bond with. The people you trust wholeheartedly. Those who you know have got your back no matter what.
  • [05:05] A shared experience where the participants were vulnerable creates a trust bond that is hard to break, even after decades and otherwise drifting apart.
  • [06:57] There are five simple steps in the vulnerability loop, a concept that is attributed to Jeff Polzer, Harvard professor in the department of organizational behavior, but was really popularized by Daniel Coyle when he included it in his book, The Culture Code. Even though they may seem random, every vulnerability loop follows the same five steps.
  • [08:47] To make it a LOOP you can’t just acknowledge their vulnerability, it isn’t enough to say, “Oh? Why is that?” or something…you can do that too, but you need to reveal something vulnerable about yourself.
  • [09:51] And you don’t have to share the exact same thing, but instead it needs to be something that makes you feel a little anxious or nervous to share, you need to feel vulnerable. I get that you want to be able to get trust and closeness without exposing yourself or having that discomfort, but it doesn’t work that way.
  • [11:08] You want to hear their vulnerability and then you share a little something to let them know they are not out on the ledge alone and that you are not going to let them fall. You want to show them that you are there to support them to create that ongoing loop of trust. 
  • [13:57] The listeners feel more connected to me because I am willing to share those moments of vulnerability. It is a little uncomfortable but a really important part to be connected to all of YOU! 
  • [15:05] Well, while we don’t have to share our deepest, darkest secrets with our teams or be weepy, fragile messes, being strong, silent, unwavering, and confident all the time isn’t going to build real trust and bond a team. We need to be willing to get vulnerable.
  • [15:54] As Polzer said, “People tend to think of vulnerability in a touchy-feely way, but that’s not what’s happening.” “It’s about sending a really clear signal that you have weaknesses, that you could use help. And if that behavior becomes a model for others, then you can set the insecurities aside and get to work, start to trust each other, and help each other. If you never have that vulnerable moment, on the other hand, then people will try to cover up their weaknesses, and every little microtask becomes a place where insecurities manifest themselves.”
  • [17:01] The first person has to go out on the limb, to make the vulnerable leap to start the conversation – to trust that the other person will reciprocate and catch them…and to keep the moment from stopping and falling flat. The second person is key to keeping the loop going, to opening up a little more to show that they can be vulnerable too – and while it doesn’t have to be only vulnerability all the time, this is something that needs a little boost back in – a continual jolt of vulnerability – to keep the loop going.
  • [17:57] Our eyes scan the world around us constantly for potential threats and are perpetually bringing in and processing information – 3 times per second on average. So, if you have a blurred background on (or a really bad virtual one) it is, essentially, sharing continually that you don’t trust people enough to let them see the real room you are in. I know that isn’t your intention but that doesn’t really matter as the brain is going to make its own association.
  • [20:29] One more piece of good news is that you don’t need to be vulnerable all the time! This isn’t a constant state of uncertainty and stress, but a few key moments that can be paying trust dividends over time are really important. 
  • [21:22] When there is increased trust, things take less time and cost less money. When there is decreased trust. or a lack of trust, they take more time and cost more money. Trust until people give you a reason not to and learn from it (don’t be a doormat) but also have a short memory, especially for little stuff.
  • [22:20] Trust is key to getting things done in business, and one of the best ways to build trust is with the vulnerability loop.
  • [23:30] In this climate of people feeling undervalued at work, like they aren’t appreciated and they don’t matter, this is such an affordable way to help them to know that they do matter. You don’t have to invest in expensive programs or wellness packages but if you don’t have the budget for them it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. You can encourage a little bonding and vulnerability and it can go a long way.
  • [26:05] Coyle’s questions are a good place to start as you think about question prompts for your team. But asking these types of questions were found to make people feel 24 percent closer to the strangers they went through the questions with than those who had the easier types of questions like in the first set. 
  • [26:52] Melina shares some of the questions she really likes from the list of 36, especially for teams. 
  • [29:59] You don’t have to have the same exact item that you share with someone else, but the flip of that is that it is really important to not judge someone else’s vulnerability.
  • [30:28] Being the second person in the loop is key to it being able to form. Make an attempt to be more attentive to the way someone is sharing their message with you.
  • [31:21] One other important thing to remember, is to trust first. Be ready and leap and know that the right people will catch you. Don’t get discouraged if someone shuts you down – try again.

Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show. 

I hope you love everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or other compensation.

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