Firstly, what is Psychological Safety? In short, it’s where we feel comfortable to (constructively) express our true feelings. Sounds simple right? Not necessarily. When we feel Psychologically Unsafe (or threatened) we can experience symptoms like fear and anxiety. Sometimes we may even feel angry that we cannot express what we feel we need to and this can lead to feelings of frustration, hurt, of being trapped. Physically, such feelings can trigger the release of adrenaline and cortisol and increase our stress levels and inhibit our ability to think clearly.
When we feel Psychologically Safe we are able to share our perspectives and ideas openly and engage in constructive conversations about them. This allows us to create deeper relationships and develop trust and also to better understand ourselves and others.
When we feel Psychologically Unsafe we are more likely to misinterpret social and non-verbal cues. For example, we might perceive a neutral expression as one of anger. In addition, our hearing tends to amplify low frequency sounds (this is designed to help us detect potential threat) and we become less able to hear higher frequency sounds. This then negatively impacts our ability to understand others and to communicate effectively. When we feel threatened we are more likely to be clear about what we want to say, we might go quiet and not say something, or we might blurt out something we didn’t intend to (ever been there??)
So, how can we encourage greater Psychological Safety in our communication with others? Firstly, we can encourage people to share their thoughts and perspectives and listen respectfully, even if we don’t agree. Remembering that we all experience the world differently is vital here and by understanding the way others experience the world we create better connection. We must set aside assumptions – clarify that you are understanding what the other person is saying so the you are sure you have interpreted it correctly.
All of this leads to higher levels of trust and encourages more open communication going forward. It also helps prevent mistakes caused by misunderstanding and assumption. By encouraging others to speak openly, we set the example to be able to do this ourselves and this then starts to reinforce this way of communicating.
If you struggle with saying what you think and would like to find out how I can help, get in touch to arrange your free, no commitment consultation here: https://www.origami-life.com/contact