We live in a culture where we’re taught to separate our personal lives from our professional—and, as a result, we tend to separate our personal selves from our professional selves. Presenting ourselves as professionals is absolutely necessary—don’t get us wrong—but there are times when it’s also just as important to present ourselves as humans. While we often see letting down our guard and being vulnerable (this month’s theme), as weaknesses, the truth is, these things often take a great deal of strength and can benefit us a ton as professionals. The key is to know when to be vulnerable and let down your guard (versus when to keep that rock-friggin’-steady boss face going strong). Today, then, we’re breaking down three important times to let your guard down at work. Get ready to trade in those high heels for a pair of chic smoking flats—things are about to get laid-back with a purpose:
When Delivering Emotionally-Charged News
As planners and business owners, we often think we need to be our businesses’ (and employees’) rock. And, we do—but we also need to be a relatable human being. When we have bad news to deliver our team, we tend to think this is a time to be the most buttoned-up and stone-faced—but the opposite is true. Our employees and coworkers want to know that we’re emotionally invested in the business and that we’re capable of having our heart broken over bad business news the way they are. Letting your guard down when you’re telling your employees about that big event you didn’t book or the unhappy client of yours can be a great way to help employees relate to you and foster an open and transparent workplace, where emotional honesty is seen as a strength, not a weakness.
When Your Team Has Had a Long Week
…or month…or year. As planners, we work our you-know-whats off. And our team is right there with us working just as hard. Sometimes, after a long wedding season or back-to-back weekend weddings, we’re loopy, drained and downright near dead. And that’s OK. We don’t always have to be on our A-Game. In fact, it looks dishonest and a bit guarded when we are all fake smiles and chipper-cheer after a week from hell. As leaders, it’s important to know when our teams need a break—and when we ourselves need one.
Going about business as usual when you’ve been through hell and back the past month is sometimes not an option—and, while it’s probably feasible to close the studio for a day, there are other fun treats you can offer your team to show them you feel their pain. Take your team out for a glass of champagne (or three) or mani-pedis when you see them slowly turning into wedding-planning zombies. Be aware of your team’s needs and allow yourself to soften to those needs every now and then. Knowing when to let your guard down and have fun with your team when they most need it is what makes you a great boss.
When Dealing with a Client Who Needs a Friend
We’ve all had that client—the one who is battling the world around her and can’t seem to catch a break. Her fiancé isn’t helping with the planning process, her relatives are being super judgmental, her bridesmaids are all-too-opinionated—and, as a result, her wedding-planning dream is becoming a nightmare. While it’s our job to be our clients’ professional planner, sometimes it’s also our job to be their friend and even therapist (so invest in that comfy couch for your studio space, like, yesterday).
As planners, we’re super busy and it’s simply not feasible to extend our client meetings an extra thirty minutes or to take our clients for coffee to check up on them or cheer them up—but there are times when it would mean the world to our clients if we did. And, in the case of the bride battling the world around her, providing her a shoulder to cry or commiserate on can make all of the difference in her planning experience. We don’t have to become besties with every single client—but taking the time to soften up a bit and get personal with our clients who most need it is a kind and heartwarming gesture. If nothing else, shoot the clients of yours who are having a tough time a text to let them know you’re thinking about them—or even consider sending them a bouquet of flowers to brighten their day.
Overall, knowing when to let your guard down as a planner can make all of the difference in the world in the way your team and your clients view you—and the experience they have with you as a result. We don’t have the time nor the capacity to be everything to everyone—and that’s not what this post is advocating for—but we do have it in our hearts and schedules to open up and soften up a bit when it’s most needed, and, in the end, the universe will pay us back ten-fold if we do. (And if the universe doesn’t, we can always pour ourselves an extra glass of wine at the end of the day to thank ourselves…because initiative, after all, is a beautiful thing.)