Are Your Groups/Teams Practicing Psychological Safety?

Psychological safety is the belief that you can speak up, take risks, and put forward ideas, questions or challenges, without facing ridicule or retaliation. William Kahn, psychologist

I have led and created small groups for many years. I’m a believer in the power of a safe place where people can gather to learn and share ideas. When I bring a group or team together, I establish “rules” such as: Assurance of confidentiality, don’t interrupt, don’t give advice unless asked, be an active listener.

Only recently did I come across the above quote about psychological safety which puts in more technical terms what I’ve instinctively considered important. This is how the concept applies to groups: “In psychologically safe teams/groups, team members express mutual respect, trust and interest in each other as people. Team members do not attack each others’ knowledge, competence, motivation, personality or character. Opinions and arguments are decoupled from the personality of the person expressing them.” 

In our family, work, social, and faith groups, I challenge us all to act with these measures in mind. 

Affirmation: I practice psychological safety.

Coaching questions: What has your group/team experience been like over the years? How will you practice psychological safety in the future? How will you help others do the same?

Photo by adrianna geo on Unsplash