For us psychological safety is a core element for effective team work, collaboration and online experiences.
The concept of team psychological safety was first introduced by Amy Edmondson (1999), organisational behavioural scientist of Harvard. She defines it as: ‘a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking [...] It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.’ In a two year study on team performance at Google, researchers found that psychological safety was the most important dynamic ingredient which set successful teams apart.
According to the Harvard Business Review, ‘Psychological safety allows for moderate risk-taking, speaking your mind, creativity, and sticking your neck out without fear of having it cut off — just the types of behavior that lead to market breakthroughs. When the workplace feels challenging but not threatening, teams can sustain the broaden-and-build mode. Oxytocin levels in our brains rise, eliciting trust and trust-making behavior. Trust, curiosity, confidence, and inspiration broaden the mind and help us build psychological, social, and physical resources. We become more open-minded, resilient, motivated, and persistent when we feel safe. Humor increases, as does solution-finding and divergent thinking — the cognitive process underlying creativity.’ (Delizonna, 2017).
In the context of facilitation, and in particular in online spaces, the ability to create psychological safety is really important. This includes creating a space where your participants feel safe to share and contribute, as well as feeling safe yourself.
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