Monthly Archives: January 2017

How To Create Psychological Safety

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.

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Posted by on January 22, 2017 in Culture, Individuals, Interactions


Psychological Safety

In this video I discuss the importance of psychological safety to effective teamwork.  Psychological safety is the degree which I feel comfortable being fully myself in a situation.

This type of safety is essential for software development and other knowledge-based teams.  Safety allows a team to benefit from the expertise of all of its members

  • Is it safe to make a mistake?
  • Is it safe to say “I don’t know” and ask for help?
  • Is it safe to learn from failure?

Learning is crucial to the success of these teams.  Without safety, teams cannot learn effectively.  High performance teams are masters of learning quickly and effectively from mistakes and failure which require a high degree of safety.


Posted by on January 21, 2017 in Uncategorized