Tips on making courage and vulnerability work for you

HR — by Emma Doležal

Remote work comes with its many perks, but it also has its challenges. One key issue is the reduced opportunity for spontaneous, casual conversations, which can stifle the sharing of ideas and the exchange of feedback.

This lack of interaction may impact the speed of idea development and decision-making. Furthermore, the inability to read social cues in a virtual environment—such as facial expressions and body language—can make people feel vulnerable and hesitant to speak up, regardless of their natural disposition.

This is where the power of courage and the embrace of vulnerability become essential. In a remote setting, it’s crucial to feel confident in sharing ideas and seeking input without fear of awkwardness. Understanding the importance of these qualities in remote collaboration is key to both project success and personal growth.

1. What’s in it for the Projects?

Sharing Early-Stage Work

Early ideas serve as the foundation upon which future innovations are built. Collaboration at this stage brings together the collective intelligence of your team, leading to more innovative and well-rounded solutions.

Firstly, by sharing your early work, you can receive additional feedback and ideas from creative colleagues with different perspectives, experiences, and knowledge.

Secondly, it allows you to make changes in a timely manner. In order to complete something in your phase, you need to understand how your work will integrate with your colleagues’ work – it doesn’t make sense to create a super-complicated design solution that no one will be able to develop. Thirdly, sharing your work in the initial phases might sometimes seem frightening because you fear being judged or critiqued. However, stepping out of your comfort zone is necessary to see things from a different perspective. By embracing that sort of vulnerability and soliciting feedback from your colleagues, you not only show them trust but also inspire them to do the same.

Building a Culture of Trust and Feedback

Courage and vulnerability are the building blocks of trust. Designers need the courage to admit when they need help, and they need to show vulnerability by asking for it. By being vulnerable, you are pushing yourself forward, steadily building your confidence. Sharing your work in progress demonstrates trust in your colleagues, and, in turn, this fosters a culture of trust within the agency, where everyone feels confident in sharing their ideas and concerns, knowing they will be valued and respected.

Even the most talented designers have room to learn. To be courageous means not only providing constructive feedback to help others grow but also being open to receiving feedback yourself. Vulnerability is seen in acknowledging mistakes and a commitment to learning from them. This fosters an environment of continuous improvement in design for both the agency and yourself.

Fostering Creativity and Innovation

When you challenge your ego you embrace vulnerability, and you create space to confront any self-imposed limitations and biases without the weight of judgment. This ego-checking establishes an encouraging environment where ideas can circulate openly, fostering creativity and innovation. By daring to step beyond your comfort zone and express your thoughts candidly, you pave the way for unlocking your full potential.

Incorporating diverse viewpoints helps refine your ideas and challenges the boundaries of creativity. Distancing yourself from your work allows for more constructive feedback and a broader perspective, ultimately fostering innovation and excellence. The open exchange of ideas can result in unexpected and groundbreaking solutions, thereby enhancing the overall quality of the agency’s work.

2. What’s in it for You?

Overcoming Introverted Tendencies

Sharing your work, especially unfinished, can be intimidating, but it’s an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and learn or gain a new perspective.

Make it a habit to ask for feedback more often or voice at least one of your ideas on a call each week. Initiate design conversations, participate in discussions, pair up with your fellow designer when working on different projects, or volunteer for challenging design tasks. Embrace these opportunities, and over time, you’ll find that expressing your ideas openly becomes less scary, and you’ll grow more comfortable engaging with your colleagues. Practice makes perfect!

The Feedback Skill

Vulnerability and courage go hand in hand when you give and receive feedback. It helps you become a better communicator and collaborator while allowing you to receive valuable insights to improve your work.

When providing your colleague with feedback, show sincere care whilst you directly challenge. Developing this skill leads to becoming a better designer by facilitating an environment where your work can evolve and improve. However, its influence extends far beyond your design projects. It enhances your overall communication skills and strengthens your relationships with team members and clients by promoting transparent and constructive dialogue. You build mutual trust, and with that, you enable effective collaboration.

Developing Assertiveness

Demonstrate assertiveness by showing confidence in your ideas and decisions by sharing and presenting your work. This practice gradually builds your assertive communication skills. Assertiveness allows you to express your thoughts and ideas in a direct and articulate manner, ensuring that your message is understood without ambiguity.

When a designer musters the courage to confidently present their design choices during a client meeting, their ego absence is evident when they listen actively and empathetically to the client’s feedback, setting aside personal attachment to their work. This collaborative approach ultimately leads to a design that precisely meets the client’s expectations.

In conclusion…

Harnessing courage and vulnerability is more than a means to an end in a remote agency. It’s a cultural shift that fosters collaboration, trust, creativity, and personal growth.

These qualities are the building blocks of a culture that thrives on openness, innovation, and progress. When you foster an environment where team members are not afraid to express their ideas, actively seek feedback, and remain open to new concepts, you set the stage for the success of individuals, clients, and the company as a whole.

The key to thriving in remote work is to create a culture where everyone feels encouraged to be brave, open, and, above all, themselves.
Embrace the journey!

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