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Growing up in the UK it was drummed into me from an early age that first impressions count, that you always mind your P’s and Q’s, and grownups must dress and act in a professional way.

Well and good.

Or is it?

Because if you’re never able to show your true self, worried that others may see you for the imposter you are, unable to reveal what you’re truly capable of, or how you truly feel, you’re presenting a shallow version of you.

At school, I pretended not to care that I wasn’t in the ‘popular’ girls’ group or in the school sports teams. I played my part, stayed quiet and hoped no one would single me out.

Now older and wiser (this is possibly debateable!) I no longer worry what others think – that’s their business. I dress for comfort not high fashion, thank goodness high heels are now out, and thank my lucky stars I get to choose to work with some amazing people who are seeking to make their own workplaces happier and healthier, because they CARE about others and want everyone to feel safe enough to be the person they are.

This means I’m far less anxious about being seen as a label – an expert, a professional etc. etc. and by revealing who I am really, have learnt to relax and enjoy my work far more. Hallelujah!

Have you had this experience too?

At work, this is made possible by being treated as a valued and respected individual.

It’s called psychological safety.

In this month’s virtual masterclass, we looked at this topic, what it is and why it’s so darn important to every individual, manager, team leader and employer.

While easy to define, Amy Edmondson describes it as the belief that your team or culture are safe for interpersonal risk-taking so you know you’re safe to speak up, seek clarification, voice a concern, or to ask for help it’s frequently misinterpreted.

The biggest issue as to why psychological safety isn’t receiving the attention it deserves is because it’s poorly understood and there are a number of misconceptions about it.


1. Low psychological safety is a warning indicator

…that teams are not achieving the level of effectiveness and success they have the potential for. It’s NOT a leadership issue because psychological safety is EVERYBODY’sbusiness

Just like when you notice your car engine isn’t running smoothly. You wouldn’t blame the car manufacturer. You take the car to a service agent, get the issue diagnosed and then get it fixed.


2. Psychological safety isn’t about just being nice.

While kindness and compassion go a long way to enhancing healthy working relationships, psychological safety enables robust conversations to take place. Healthy relationships allow for bad decisions to be called out, and to challenge bias or inequity when it occurs. 

Accountability and high performance are enhanced by psychological safety.


3. Psychological safety is not a tick in the box.

The goal is not psychological safety, but to create the level of psychological safety needed to drive engagement, lift performance, and nurture business success. 


4. It’s not a one-size fits all solution

Every workplace is different, and it will always be a work in progress. By measuring and reviewing the level of psychological safety across their teams, companies get to recognise how identification and early intervention of a psychosocial hazard can prevent a small issue morphing into something far bigger and uglier.


Psychological safety IS an enabler.

It enables you as an individual and as part of a team, to work at your best, to feel encouraged, supported, and respected for the talents you have, the strengths that you bring and the positive difference you make to the team and or business.

As we move into the human-centric era of work, tapping into the vast wisdom and potential of those at work is what will make work, work better for everyone. 

Now that has to be something worth working towards.

If psychological safety has been missing in action in your workplace, what have you seen to make the biggest positive difference so far?


Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is now available for purchase.

If psychological safety, burnout prevention and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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