Want to Really Help Others at Work? Talk About Your Failures

By being real with someone, it’s possible to create space for a different type of connection. Ryan Vaughn offers insight on why it’s important to foster authentic relationships in the workplace.

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Most people communicate in a business context with an intention, unstated but permeating everything they say like bad incense. They say lots of words, but what they’re really hoping you hear is that they’re competent. Independent of what they say, the way they say it is polished to shining, honed over dozens of conversations to produce a certain result.

You know it when you hear it. It’s the moment in a call when, after comparing your weather to theirs, one of you offers to give “a bit of background to help set the context for our call.” And then the next 3-15 minutes (depending on how dialed in they are) is that person rehashing a rehearsed presentation of themselves that they’ve (consciously or unconsciously) fine-tuned to make an impression on you. For my last business, I went so far as to prepare different versions of my pitch depending on the situation: five words about the company for a first introduction, a paragraph touching on the market, unfair advantage and traction for investors, and a personal description of my greatest accomplishments for volunteer work.

The goal was to tell the other person about myself in the way I thought would get…