The Mindful Sprint 2: Psychological Safety
Toxic cultures limit and distort information. Use psychological safety to support high-performing teams.
Aye, fight! But not your neighbor. Fight rather all the things that cause you and your neighbor to fight. —Mikhail Naimy
We experience psychological safety in groups we know will not embarrass, reject, or punish members for speaking up or being themselves. Members show high interpersonal trust and mutual respect. Psychological safety is strongly correlated with high-performing teams.
To create psychological safety, demonstrate it. Be open, approachable, and empathic yourself, and encourage open communication in others, particularly if you are a leader. Share a deeply personal story. Discuss norms allowing every person to talk, and gently interrupt dominant speakers to make room for quieter members. Encourage members to ask questions, learn from mistakes, and seek feedback. Mindfulness practices, such as group meditation, improve results.
Google's "Project Aristotle" research team discovered improved psychological safety led to much higher team productivity. Psychologically safe teams collaborated more effectively and generated more innovative solutions.
In high productivity teams, members spoke more equally and could more accurately tell how others felt by voice or facial expressions.
One manager converted a team from unsafe to safe by first sharing his recent cancer diagnosis, and the impacts on his family. This led to others sharing their challenges. And eventually, higher productivity.
Duhigg, C. (2016). “What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team.” The New York Times
Amy Gallo (February 15, 2023) “What Is Psychological Safety?,” Harvard Business Review.
Try this with a trusted friend. Share a deep personal truth, then remain quiet for the other person to speak. Observe how trust and mutual respect shifts.
The corresponding Mindful Agility podcast episode is 21 minutes, and the hosts are rumored to be friendly. Check it out at https://sr.link/map-ps. If you are seeing this before May 2 2023, the link gets you to a sneak preview (prehear?).
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The Mindful Sprint is a 250 word, 2 minute read to help you find more fulfillment and success at home and work, produced weekly by Mindful Agility.
I just experienced this firsthand the other day at work. People were asking me about mindfulness (knowing I’m somewhat experienced and in school for teaching it) and I began by discussing why I got into it. I shared some vulnerable truths I hadn’t shared with coworkers before. Before I knew it, a small group of people had gathered at the nurses station to share their similar experiences. It ended by people asking me what mindfulness practices had helped me.
Leaders are much more effective when they are vulnerable, making them more relatable and gives them credibility. Thanks for the great writing!
Love this- this is very to the point. Something that we all come across daily. This is about building trust- not because ‘You’ want something, but because you want your team/ friend/ family to feel safe and trusted.