The HOW and WHEN of Psychological Safety

Psychological safety in organizations is an oft discussed subject today. A key element of psychological safety is the ability to freely share a contrarian thought or idea; disagree with our co-workers, manager, or seniors.

To build a psychologically safe workplace, we expect our co-workers and seniors to be

  • open, not wedded to their ideas and
  • willing to be challenged

Within same context, surprisingly some people seem to successfully influence others to accept their divergent thoughts, while few others seem to get snubbed.

Ever wonder why? The answer I believe lies in the fact that organizations are made up of people; and human beings are entangled with emotions, egos, good and bad days.

When we understand this nuance, we can adapt

  • How we share our contrarian idea or suggestion, as “I disagree with you” OR “Here’s a different idea”
  • When we share it – in one-on-one / small group setting or in larger gathering

The HOW and WHEN determine the response we get: whether our contrarian idea is accepted or rejected.   The two-by-two matrix above outlines the same.

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