The Truth About Psychological Safety

wednesdays with wayne Oct 25, 2023

Psychological Safety is such a big topic! 


Stick with me here. It’s going to feel a little heavy in the middle. I promise you’ll have something positive to hang onto. In a short blog, I can’t go into ALL of the details I’d want. It’d become a full chapter or two. You’ll find something for you in a few places here. Read on!


The current workforce demands psychological safety as a foundational value. When I consult with organizations, the leadership is perplexed. “How are we supposed to offer something like that?” 


And that’s actually a great question because psychological safety means so many different things; every one of us is going to have our own definition of what makes us feel “psychologically safe.”


Let’s flip this around for a moment: 

What makes us feel unsafe?


There are two key things that create a sense of feeling unsafe psychologically:


  • Actual or perceived threats
    • Bullying comes under this and it’s amazingly subtle when it shows up sometimes. I’ve seen leaders talk about their subordinates using pejorative adjectives. (And yes, I interrupt that. And yes, we talk about how that isn’t real leadership when a culture is created by demeaning others. Being a bully only makes you look insecure, not in charge.) Micro-aggression is a form of bullying, but most people don’t even know they’re engaging in behavior that isn’t supportive, nor do they even think of being supportive in the moment. (And all of this is a topic for another day. Stay tuned, I’ve got a big announcement coming about something I’m working on.)


  • Uncertainty 
    • When an authority figure (or a person who claims authority) is unpredictable in their behavior or emotional outbursts, there is a sense of having to be on alert. You’ll either stay out of the way or seek to find the “right” response in the moment. 


In situations where physical or mental/emotional abuse is predictably unpredictable, it’s likely in your best interest to get out. (I don’t know your particular situation. I’ll simply suggest here that you get help and support. You’re not alone.)


Okay, it got heavy, keep reading, this part is for you - 


What about uncertainty in the world? 

We could live our lives in fear, on alert for the next bad thing to happen. We could choose not to take a job or commit to a relationship because there’s no certainty about how things will turn out. And while some people frame this in terms of being psychologically unsafe, this is life. The horrible earthquakes, floods, and fires we’ve just seen in the news are a part of life. Accidents happen all the time. 


Some people live in the belief that because something good has happened, it won’t last long and something bad is going to happen. For them, there is no psychological safety. Unless…




Have you ever lived through a hard time? Have you ever had someone say something to you that hurt your feelings? Have you ever endured a hardship that kept you up at night? Of course you have. You’re human! 


So think about all of that. Did you live through it? Did you strategize for the next time? Did you figure out that what makes you psychologically safe is your courage, your resilience, and your ability to figure things out?


You can’t know what it’s going to be like at a job or in a relationship or even in your home. If you burn dinner, will you never ever cook dinner again? No, you’ll learn from that and lean into creating a different outcome.


If you get emotionally close to someone, will you suddenly back away because you can’t predict how the relationship will go next year or the year after? 


So the question is not, “what if I get hurt?” The real question is, “how will I live my life fully, feeling, growing, and learning each day?”


And that’s the choice you get to make every day.

Psychological safety is, in large part, something you’ll create for yourself. You can ask for and create the conditions to allow it while questioning whether the fear you’re feeling is from a true external threat or from the stories that you’ve carried with you for years. 


You create your own safety by recognizing your strengths and resilience, your courage, and your superpower of being able to figure things out.


You’re worth it.

You’re loved.


Remember that.


Stay curious and keep making your magic.


= Wayne = 

Have you been thinking about the Exponential Success Summit and noticed that it’s too late to join this month’s event? 

Building confidence takes practice. Gaining clarity about your true desires and creating a road map to get there takes practice. Daring to declare what you are pulled to do over what you feel you should be doing… that takes practice, too. 

Space is limited to 12 people at my signature mastermind – aka the Exponential Success Summit. Seats have been selling already. 

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