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Psychological Safety - and why its life-saving for you at work

autonomy in the workplace burnout burnout in healthcare healthcare life coaching mindset coaching preventing burnout psychological safety safety at work stress reduction coaching trust work stress Jun 11, 2023

Psychological safety is something that you already intuitively know and understand - but it does not get defined or spoken about frequently, especially in the work environment.

We are talking about those times when you bite your tongue or are unsure if it will be okay to speak your mind, offer a suggestion, “say it like you see” it or otherwise engage because you do not feel safe to do so – because your job or position might be jeopardized.

This includes any situation where there is a real or perceived uneven balance of power such as a physician talking to administrator, a team member talking to a provider, or medical assistant or nurse talking with their supervisor.

You can imagine a situation you have been in the past review did not feel safe to express yourself. As a physician, I can think of multiple times in the past as a medical student, then as a resident and fellow and training and even as an attending where I did not feel safe or comfortable making a suggestion or request, discussing an incident or asking a question because I perceived that I might be penalized, chastised, blamed or shamed for speaking.  This left me feeling isolated, alone, and helpless. And these types of feelings, especially in a fast-paced medical environment increase our stress levels which lead to burnout and dissatisfaction.

There are 2 components of psychological safety and multiple ways to foster and develop it in a team environment. 

The first component is trust, which develops in a team environment or in any connection between 2 individuals. This encompasses respect, active listening, focusing on solutions instead of problems, and learning in a supportive way.

The second component is autonomy – knowing that you can find, create, and foster safety within yourself and your team. This includes ownership and responsibility for what we bring into any human connection.

Being able to express yourself without fear of negative consequences is the simple definition of psychological safety. And you can start building it within yourself and sharing its fruits with your team today.

Here’s how:

  1. Listen actively to hear, not to answer
  2. Be authentic and vulnerable yourself and model what you wish to see more of
  3. Be honest, kind, and empathic
  4. Focus on generating ideas, creating solutions, and learning from every opportunity
  5. Acceptance of others as human beings

If you want to deepen your psychological safety and create a safe and fulfilling environment for you and your team - I can help. Email me at [email protected] to connect and schedule a time to do a consultation to talk more about how coaching can strengthen, enhance and support your leadership skills. 

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