“Hi. How are you?” While simple in nature, striking up a conversation for the first time with someone might seem really intimidating. For me, it’s an opportunity to open up my world to new possibilities. As cliché as it may sound, it’s true.
I am a genuinely curious person and have no problem walking up to someone and saying hello. Honestly, what do I have to lose by doing that? Sure, I could be ignored or dismissed, but I could also make a new friend or learn something new.
Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with a couple of new friends and having one of those foundational discussions: the typical getting-to-know-you dialogue. What was unique about that conversation is that I actually learned something new about not only my new friends, but also myself. Well, not something totally new, but instead a different perspective on what I have always thought of as one of my characteristic behaviors, which they called vulnerability.
What I mean by this is that I always thought of my ability to open myself up to someone as “normal” and an intentional choice for interaction. What I learned, however, is that it isn’t a normal behavior at all and for some, it’s actually a desired behavior. Being willing to strike up a conversation always seemed like a choice for me, but what I learned is that people may be willing to but may not feel comfortable enough to do it.
When you think about vulnerability, what comes to mind? Is it weakness? Is it instability?
Webster’s dictionary defines vulnerability as:
1: capable of being physically or emotionally wounded
2: open to attack or damage: assailable
- vulnerable to criticism