Our feeling of safety is largely under our control – it is a point of view. That is good, because that means we have a chance to improve it.
By practicing being vulnerable – putting ourselves in a position where we can potentially be hurt – we can increase our feeling of safety. Some examples are:
- Say “no” when it is uncomfortable doing so.
- Share a mistake you made with a colleague.
- Ask for help when you don’t fully understand something.
By repeatedly taking these small risks, our feeling of safety increases. If the reaction from the other person is good, then you have increased your feeling of safety. And even when the reaction is negative, if you can accept it, then your safety will increase even more.
To prepare yourself for a negative reaction you might try:
- Being prepared for the worst that can happen; if you can accept the worst case scenario, then you will be able to benefit regardless of the other person’s reaction.
- Realize that you are at choice – you have chosen to have this difficult conversation to incrementally build your safety muscle.
Finally, if being vulnerable is too large a step, then consider meeting with people in your team and sharing stories of when you were in a difficult situation. You will realize that you are not alone, and we all find ourselves feeling unsafe sometimes. And that feeling of “it’s not just me” will prepare you for the initial vulnerability exercise.