Emotional safety isn’t just a touchy-feely concept. Study after study shows it is not only key to mental health, but also innovation and success. In fact, Google completed a two year study to find out what made some of their teams more high-performing than others. Guess what they discovered was the number one factor for high-performing teams? That’s right, psychological safety, which they specifically defined as the belief you won’t be punished for making a mistake because they had trust in their team. In other words, they felt safe to try.
Paul Santagata, Head of Industry at Google, used six strategies rooted in positive psychology to create psychological safety on his team. OKPTA Cultivate wants to focus on one tip each Friday for the next six Fridays. After all, our family is a team, right? Our children work in teams and in peer groups, right? We think we can borrow from Google for stronger families and stronger peer relationships. So let’s take a look at tip #1
1. Approach conflict as a collaborator, not an adversary. We humans hate losing even more than we love winning. A perceived loss triggers attempts to reestablish fairness through competition, criticism, or disengagement, which is a form of workplace-learned helplessness. Santagata knows that true success is a win-win outcome, so when conflicts come up, he avoids triggering a fight-or-flight reaction by asking, “How could we achieve a mutually desirable outcome?”https://hbr.org/2017/08/high-performing-teams-need-psychological-safety-heres-how-to-create-it
Do we ever see these behaviors – unhealthy competition, criticism, or disengagement – in our relationships? Santagata points out that when we think we are going to lose, we often lash out in these ways rather than work together to find the win-win. Relationships where one person has to lose for the other to win aren’t sustainable because the person who can’t win will likely move on. Let’s work to cultivate environments that automatically look for solutions that are mutually beneficial!