Oxymoron it may be, but to share a weakness is in fact to show a strength – so long as you use your emotional intelligence in doing so.
One way of getting people to listen to you more is to share your vulnerability. Let’s face it: we know that none of us are perfect, but how often do we find ourselves airing such weakness in public? Done genuinely, this is a powerful way of getting people to believe in you. Only recently we have seen examples of this when David Cameron reminded us he had once left his baby girl in the pub; and Emma Watson – brave enough to admit to her nervousness when she spoke at the UN.
One of my favourite examples of this happened a while back. I was helping a partner of a professional services firm who wanted to refine his leadership skills. He was to give a presentation to a group of newly promoted Directors and he wanted to inspire them to do well in their responsibilities. The words he had already prepared were technically correct but he couldn’t help but feel it was “really rather dull”. In working with him on this he decided to include in his presentation the following: Back when he was up for promotion, he had been told by a senior partner that they had a problem: “our clients love you; you are technically brilliant! But………., nobody in the office wants to work with you!”. It took some guts for him to share this but afterwards he realised it had been the part that the new Directors had really listened to and learnt from most.
Try this out in a low risk environment and see the results for yourself – just remember it has to be genuine.