Brené Brown is everywhere.
If you didn’t catch her TED talk or her appearance on Oprah’s SuperSoul conversations, you might have seen her recent Netflix documentary “The Call to Courage.”
Even though she’s a shame and vulnerability researcher (which wouldn’t seem to have mass appeal), everyone loves her.
Because we ALL feel shame. We ALL feel vulnerable. It’s actually a relief to get those feelings out in the open.
But when Brené shifted directions to write about business and leadership, I didn’t think her new work would have anything to offer those of us interested in better relationships. How we behave in the workplace has nothing to do with how we date, right?
Given the amount of time we spend at work, our workplace culture shapes us. We learn what other people value most in us. We learn what’s okay to talk about and what’s not okay to share. We adapt to our environment, and those lessons go back home with us.
Problems arise when your workplace culture requires that you “armor up.” You push down inconvenient feelings, you maintain a façade of perfection, and you make sure no one catches you being all-too-human.
This is what Brené describes as “armored leadership.”
It’s when we strive to protect ourselves rather than open up to uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. We want to make sure we look good, even if we don’t feel good.
If you work in a dog-eat-dog environment, that’s often the only way to survive. But then you come back home…
And you find yourself pushing down inconvenient feelings, avoiding hard discussions, and choosing looking good over feeling good.
You take your work armor and wear it into your intimate relationships.
“Armored dating”–my term, not Brené’s—is incredibly common.
We feel as if we have to wear armor to succeed in the dating pool, which can feel as cut-throat as business.
Here’s what some of your armor might look like:
- You make him do all the work (making the first move, asking you to become exclusive) so that you don’t have to risk rejection.
- You present yourself as the kind of woman he wants, rather than revealing your true self.
- You avoid complimenting him or showing him appreciation because you don’t want him to know how much you like him.
- When something happens that makes you feel uncomfortable, you brush it off because you don’t want to jeopardize the relationship.
- You focus on achieving the goal (exclusivity, commitment) instead of considering whether momentum is what you really want.
- You play it cool even when he hurts your feelings, because you don’t want to let him know he’s gotten to you.