Transparency vs Vulnerability: Which Is Better?

Many people use the words transparency and vulnerability interchangeably, and I’ve been guilty of this, also. Both are good but they are different. Both go a step beyond honesty, but vulnerability goes a even step beyond transparency!

Transparency goes beyond honesty. When I’m honest, I’m answering something honestly if you ask me about it. When I’m transparent, I go a step further by sharing with you things that I don’t have to, because you didn’t ask. I am honest and open about myself—what is going on—letting you see what is happening in my life.

Vulnerability goes a step beyond transparency, because when I am vulnerable, I express my emotions. I reveal not only facts around the situation, but how I feel internally and emotionally about those facts.

Here’s what this looks like: Let’s say that you’ve recently lost your job and your friend asks how you are doing. When you are honest, you answer, “things could be better. I just lost my job.”

Transparency is when you answer, “not good. I recently lost my job and unfortunately, I don’t have any prospects.” Vulnerability is when you answer, “not good. I recently lost my job and unfortunately, I don’t have any prospects. I’m really worried, and it’s causing me to even lose sleep.”

Here’s another example: You and your best friend got in a disagreement. And you share with someone, “My best friend and I got into a disagreement.” Transparency is when you say, “my best friend and I got into a disagreement, and she is now not even returning my text messages.” Vulnerability is when you say, “my best friend and I got into a disagreement, and she is now not even returning my text messages, and it’s bothering me a lot, because I really miss her friendship.”

As you can see, vulnerability is much harder to express because it is showing our imperfections, which takes courage. However, when you show others that you trust them enough to be vulnerable, you build trust with them, and they then begin to trust you more, as well.

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