Psychological Safety in the Workplace

How many of you have ever felt anxious, worried or intimidated at work? Probably most of us. I know I have. These feelings can come from a number of situations. We may feel uncomfortable sharing our opinion with the boss in the room because he or she may react poorly to our ideas. We may feel uncomfortable sharing ideas or opinions with co-workers because they may either may not accept our viewpoint or may judge us negatively simply for having an opinion different from their own. We may feel uncomfortable to assert ourselves in the workplace because we worry that that our ideas might upset powerful individuals in the business. Some of us may feel intimidated or frightened that our race, ethnic background, our sexual orientation, or other variables irrelevant to our work may be important to those we work with and may be held against us.

All of these challenges represent the concept of psychological safety in the workplace. If we don’t feel safe to be ourselves, express ourselves, and progress ourselves as far as we can in our work setting, we are ultimately dealing with a situation in which the lack of psychological safety may prevent us from not only achieving our larger goals in our work arena – but also may leave us feeling uncomfortable, threatened, challenged and worried about what will happen when we arrive at work each day.

The notion of psychological safety is paramount to people being able to do their jobs successfully and with emotional comfort. Next I’ll tell you how to increase your psychological safety in the workplace.

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