Incorporating a new recruit into your zombie army can be tricky. Of course, you’ll help create the all-important zombie-recruit/misunderstood-villain dynamic by using a process conversation, as described in episode 513, How to Strengthen Relationships with Process Conversations. We learned to make relationships successful from day one, by syncing up on communication medium, feedback, work style and other aspects of our relationship. But there’s more.
It’s not enough to anticipate what you need to do to work well together. The flip side, which we almost never talk about, is anticipating how things might break. And since zombies are made of rotting flesh, let’s just say they break a lot more easily than you’d expect.
Vulnerability Is Key
Talking about how things break takes courage. You have to admit that things might break. In our culture, we always want to project an aura of absolute certainty and confidence.
(If you’re under 30 listening to this, I have a horrible life spoiler for you: Very few people actually know what they’re doing. Job title is no predictor of ability. Confidence is no predictor of ability. Some of the most competent people have the lowest confidence. Have you heard of Impostor Syndrome? And many of the least competent people have high confidence. Very high confidence. The best confidence.)
None of us wants to admit we’re not perfect. It opens us up and makes us vulnerable.
So I’ll go first.
Access Your Inner Hippie
I moved a lot as a kid. I grew up in a traveling New Age commune. We would move into a town and start a psychic growth center. Word would spread, and lickity-split, none of the kids would be allowed to play with me. You’ve heard of the kids from the other side of the tracks? Ta da! That’s me!
For 12-year-old me, this was really hard. Middle school is hard enough for kids who are well-adjusted, popular, and into sports. When you’re small for your age, smart, have zero social skills, and were raised as a conscientious objector, let’s just say you get an awful lot of “feedback” from your peers.
I ended up emotionally scarred for life. But scar tissue is tough. So now, being open is easy for me. The Ambassador to the Court of Saint James invites me to a “black tie” New Years Eve reception. I grab a thick piece of black rope and tie it around my waist to keep my loincloth on. When I don’t win the best-dressed award, it doesn’t crush my ego. I just make a note to myself: “The phrase ‘black tie’ does not mean what you think it means.”
Be me. Seriously. Just, be me. Pretend you’ve already been made fun of, pushed down the stairs, ridiculed for wearing glasses, beaten up for being weird. And you survived.
But also keep enough of you to be realistic. You don’t want to learn the loincloth lesson. Trust me. Got it? Are you me, yet? Good. Now you’re ready to be vulnerable enough to establish stronger relationships with others.