What is psychological safety?
As I wrote last week, psychological safety seems to me an essential ingredient to healthy discourse and productive collaboration. It has been defined by Amy Edmonson as a concept distinct from trust. Here's what she says:
Psychological safety describes individuals’ perceptions about the consequences of interpersonal risks in their work environment. It consists of taken-for-granted beliefs about how others will respond when one puts oneself on the line, such as by asking a question, seeking feedback, reporting a mistake, or proposing a new idea. I argue that individuals engage in a kind of tacit calculus at micro-behavioral decision points, in which they assess the interpersonal risk associated with a given behavior. In this tacit process, one weighs the potential action against the particular interpersonal climate, as in, “If I do ‘X’ here, will I be hurt, embarrassed or criticized?” A negative answer to this tacit question allows the actor to proceed. In this way, an action that might be unthinkable in one work group can be readily taken in another, due to different beliefs about probable interpersonal consequences.
From Psychological Safety, Trust, and Learning in Organizations: A Group-level lens by Amy Edmondson, bold added by me.
Photo: Amy Edmondson. From http://www.talkinbusiness.nl/