Workplace wellness

17 May 2023

4 min.

3 factors that promote psychological safety

“I had a great idea, but I preferred to keep quiet. My boss is such a bad listener, always ready to say ‘no’. It wasn’t worth my while to express myself. My idea would have ended up in the garbage can, or I’d have made a fool of myself.”

Have you ever thought like that?

Does psychological safety mean anything to you?

It’s when you work in a climate where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves freely, and sharing their ideas and opinions, without fear of their colleagues’ reactions.

When we say that psychological safety is one of the key elements in the emergence of creativity and innovation in an organization, the above example clearly demonstrates this.

When this security isn’t present, collective intelligence is less likely to emerge.

There are three factors to consider when promoting psychological safety.

1st factor: being sensitive to others

Take a genuine interest in what others are going through. Look for clues as to how they really feel.

But also demonstrate your sensitivity to others:

  • speak with sensitivity
  • put yourself in “curious” mode
  • discover the other person’s perspective
  • be sensitive to non-verbal cues

Help your team create a climate of civility


2nd factor: promoting equity and diversity

Fairness in the workplace means giving everyone the same chances and opportunities, and questioning inequalities at the outset.

Nobody can be against that, can they? But what does it mean in practice? Here are some behaviors that distinguish teams that promote equity and diversity.

  • In group meetings, everyone has an equal right to speak.
  • The opinions and ideas of all team members are solicited.
  • If a conflict arises, colleagues are encouraged to act collaboratively (and not adversarially) to try to find a mutually satisfactory solution.
  • Accept that a given situation may give rise to different perspectives, each equally valid.
  • If you disagree with an idea, listen respectfully and wait until the other person has finished speaking before giving your opinion on the matter. Avoid interrupting if you disagree.

Factor 3: Allow yourself to make mistakes

The last facet is to allow the right to make mistakes. This is all the more important if you want to develop creativity and innovation within your organization! To innovate, you have to give yourself the right to experiment, to try new things. This doesn’t mean we tolerate repeated mistakes! You don’t want to discourage team members who want to try something new, when it’s for the good of the organization.

To develop a sense of security in the face of error, there are several key behaviors to develop:

  • express how you feel and what you’d like to see ( e.g. instead of saying “your document is no good”, opt instead for “this is a super-important document for the team, could we improve it together?”).
  • be self-deprecating and able to laugh at your mistakes.
  • show others your vulnerabilities (you don’t have all the answers, and sometimes you need help too – just say so!
  • admit mistakes rather than blame others.
To feel that we can be ourselves even when things aren't going so well, that's priceless!

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Strengthen the psychological safety of your teams

Psychological Safety

In fact, our combined experiences are full of those very moments when we didn’t feel able to express ourselves freely in a meeting… We all have a manager in mind when it comes to psychological safety and its mismanagement.

Brainstorm as a team on the best way to implement these factors for psychological safety. Having a team discussion on the subject will be a good first step towards success!

We wish you rich and sincere exchanges. Don’t forget to give everyone a chance to express themselves, and make sure everyone gets a fair chance to speak!