As a society, we’ve built an entire culture around working for the weekend. I love my job and the people I work with. But work can still become a major stressor as an individual contributor. I want to unpack psychological safety and why it’s important for people who might not be aware of the concept. What does psychological safety mean to you? How do you implement it with the people you work with?
I’ll use Amy Edmondson’s definition of psychological safety. Amy Edmondson didn’t coin the term psychological safety, but she really brought it to the mainstream. Her definition of psychological safety is essentially, “I feel safe to speak my mind without fear of negative consequences.”
In other words, I can say what I need to say without fearing that someone will hold it against me or say negative things about me. In this team, I feel safe to take risks. I feel safe to be my true, authentic self. I don’t have to hide behind any false skin or identity.
Psychological safety is the opposite of fear. It’s fearlessness. If I feel fear, I’m not going to say anything. If I feel fearless, I’m free to speak my mind. I don’t go home every night thinking, “I wish I could have said something to this person. I didn’t say it because I didn’t know how they were going to react.” That’s not psychological safety. That’s fear.