Do you spend a lot of your time working on group projects? If you do, then you understand the importance of teamwork. In order to get things done, you and your coworkers need to communicate, respect each other, and coordinate your efforts. You also need to feel safe.
Researchers have found that in order for coworkers to collaborate effectively, they must feel “psychologically safe.” They must feel like they can voice their opinions, suggest new ideas, disagree with each other, and be honest without fear of retribution.
So what can you do to help create a psychologically safe work environment? Try the following:
- Listen carefully – When your coworkers are talking, listen to what they’re saying. Pay attention, don’t interrupt, keep an open mind, and try to see things from their perspectives.
- Feel free to disagree – It’s important to be respectful of others, but it’s also important to voice your opinions. If you don’t agree with something that a coworker says, you should say so. Disagreeing with your coworker doesn’t make you a disagreeable person. Everyone on the team should feel free to express their thoughts and ideas, even if they don’t align with someone else’s.
- Be kind – It’s OK to disagree with someone. But you must make sure to voice your opinions in a calm, respectful manner. And don’t talk about other people behind their backs. It creates the kind of negative environment in which no one feels secure.
- Admit to your mistakes – No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. If you own up to them, the other people on your team will see that it’s OK to make a misstep. They’ll feel more comfortable about extending themselves and trying new things.
- Be goofy – Joke around with your coworkers. Laugh together. Go out as a group and do something fun. When you have a good time together, you form a bond and establish a foundation of trust.
Braverman, B. (n.d.). The one quality that makes every team more effective – and how to foster it. The Muse. Retrieved from: https://www.themuse.com/advice/effective-teams-psychological-safety-in-the-workplace?ref=recently-published-0