#22 Terrified of vulnerability and starved for connection with Ken Mossman

Ken Mossman


Ken Mossman, who has specialised in coaching men for the past two decades, joins us this show. He is here to provide his knowledge on vulnerability and why men do not generally like being open. Ken also gives advice for building stronger connections.


Why are men terrified of vulnerability?


[0:50] The main reason is because vulnerability has gotten a bad name. It’s been associated with weakness and helplessness, and men don’t want to appear that way. The challenge is when men think it’s not okay to ask for help, as if they are supposed to know all the answers.


“There is this pressure to perform and provide. Is it a bad thing? No. Does it mean that there’s some sort of way in which men come into the world automatically equipped to do those things? The answer to that is also no.”


What is an example of how this plays out at work?


[5:09] One person cannot hold the entire big picture of an immensely complex system, and this example is seen in organizations such as government or large companies.


If someone is running a small business with very few employees, maybe that one person does know more than anyone else about the business. When the system becomes larger, there’s no single person who can know everything that’s going on.


Why are men being starved for vulnerability?


[7:44] We are all social creatures and Ken believes what men are really starved for is deep connection. Vulnerability is a key piece of openness and willingness to engage. Many men have been socialized to stay away from those things. It can be a frightening step.


What challenges do men face to be more vulnerable?


[9:27] Everything starts with awareness. The first piece is to notice that there is something you are hungry for….like making deeper connections. Like making connections that matter and having conversations that go beyond sports, beyond business. Nothing wrong with sports or business, but notice there is a huger for beyond.


“I may be in a great relationship with my wife or life partner, but that one relationship can’t hold all of my needs and wants in that hunger for connection with other men.”

In the desire of true connection with vulnerability, there is nothing to prove and there is no competition. So how does one measure the connection. So it becomes dicey how does one see the connection.

What are some examples of these conversations that build connections?


[11:47] There are two aspects:

  1. Opening the door into yourself. Asking “How well do I actually know myself?”
  2. Opening to the unknown. This comes back to vulnerability. “If I sit down with you and have a coffee or a beer with no agenda, I really don’t know where this conversation is going to go.”

Its about – How are you REALLY doing?

What tips can Ken give for men to be less terrified?


[13:24] Ask “How are you doing? and How are you you really doing?”, Be willing to go first and be willing to be a little bit frightened. That’s a big ask because men usually don’t like to do that. On the flip side, be willing to have the same questions asked of yourself and be willing to share what comes up in the moment.


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