Friday, February 20, 2009

Achieving Intimacy in (Workplace) Relationships

The delightful subject of intimacy was raised at a recent leadership love-in that I attended. I mentioned in group discussion that I am sometimes a little nervous in achieving rapport with people I don’t know, and most related with what I said. I mentioned the word “intimacy”--in the context of struggling to build a useful rapport with at least some level of authenticity of exchange i.e. intimacy was sometimes lacking.

Then one of the facilitators of the session introduced a common sense way of looking at intimacy.

She explained that intimacy could be seen as INTO-ME-SEE. Let me explain.

When we show someone a personal weakness (i.e. express vulnerability) it gives them permission to breathe a sigh of relief and become vulnerable too. Secretly, deep down in each of us, we hide our weakness because we think it’s unique, even shameful. But, if we trust them with ours they might trust us with theirs.

Intimacy is really about allowing people to see into us; it’s a revealing of something personal and private. Intimacy is the doorway to trust. It’s opening ourselves up to be vulnerable and fallible, and freeing our mind and heart so the other person might step in and gain a personal glimpse of the person we actually are; this is no small step.

It was acknowledged that it takes the courage of vulnerability to do this. We can’t just open up; it’s a decision of the will, and we must want to do it. We must take a risk.

To achieve intimacy in working relationships we must be prepared to initiate it; only then can we intuit a response of intimacy and the chance that the other person responds likewise. When we drop our guard it invites others to drop theirs. Hence a ‘connection’ is suddenly made.

This is not easy to do for a great many of us, but it becomes easier with practice. Not only that, but it’s a powerful statement of intention to commit and build upon our relationships, acknowledging that we can place others first or at least on an equal footing with ourselves.

Oh, another very real advantage... less back-biting and assumptions of wrong are made when we know someone that little bit better.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Acknowledgement to Jude Taylor.

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