It's no secret that communication is key to a successful workplace. But what you may not realize is that the way you communicate can actually have a big impact on the psychological safety of your coworkers.
If you weren't aware, psychological safety is defined as "a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for taking risks or expressing ideas, even if those risks or ideas are unpopular." In other words, it's the feeling of being able to speak up and share your thoughts without fear of judgment or repercussions.
Creating a psychologically safe environment is essential for a productive, thriving workplace. After all, if people don't feel comfortable speaking up, important ideas may never be heard and avoidable problems become unavoidable. But how can your communication improve psychological safety?
First, let's look at one very popular mode of communication: email. If you're like most people, you probably use email all the time to communicate with your coworkers and clients. But did you know that there's a right way and a wrong way to use email?
In general, it's best to avoid using email for sensitive or difficult conversations. Why? Because it's easy for emails to be misinterpreted. If a topic is sensitive or difficult, opt for a phone call instead. It's more approachable and the human-to-human contact means there's less room for misinterpretation. Also with emails, something as simple as your greeting or signature can make a positive or negative impression. So make sure you're mindful of the words and salutations you use.
When it comes to the actual content of your email, try to be as clear and concise as possible. Be direct about what you need or want and avoid using vague language. The last thing you want is for your email to be misinterpreted because it wasn't clear enough.
Another common form of communication that can impact psychological safety is speaking on the phone. If you're speaking on the phone with someone, it's important to be aware of your tone. The way you say something is often just as important as the words you use. Avoid sounding impatient, condescending, or judgmental. Instead, try to sound friendly and interested.
It's also important to remember that not everyone communicates in the same way. Some people are more direct while others are more indirect. It's important to be aware of these differences and to adjust your communication style accordingly. The last thing you want is to come across as insensitive or uninterested because you didn't take the time to understand how the other person communicates.
Finally, remember that communication is an integral part of every team and workplace. By being aware of the impact your communication can have, you can make a positive difference in the psychological safety of both your coworkers and even your clients.