Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out as a sound, ends in a deed.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel
Words matter. What we say and how we say it affects those around us in powerful ways. And while even with the best of intentions and practice, miscommunication and negative effects can occur, being mindful and intentional with our language can help reduce those instances. And you might just be surprised by what a positive and profound effect small, everyday phrases can have on others. Consider these 12 statements that help foster psychological safety to begin creating a safe and inclusive workplace.
Evaluate your areas of strength and opportunities for growth for promoting each of the areas of psychological safety through language
Brainstorm ways to begin developing or enhancing your use of psychologically safe language
As you work towards being a more thoughtful, intentional, and inclusive communicator, use the below infographic as a guide and reminder that effective and positive communication requires intention and practice.
LEADERSHIP LANGUAGE THAT PROMOTES PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY
Consider each of the 12 statements that promotes psychological safety
Are there any you know you use frequently and naturally?
What makes these especially “easy” or “natural” for you?
Are there any you know you rarely or never use?
What makes these especially “difficult” for you?
Consider the psychological areas related to each of the 12 statements that promotes psychological safety
Based on your initial reflection, do you notice that you:
tend to mostly use statements that correspond with only 1-2 of the psychological areas?
use statements that correspond to 3-4 of the psychological areas?
use all the statements and/or cover all 5 of the psychological areas?
Why do you think this is?
Brainstorm ways to begin developing or enhancing each your use of language that promotes psychological safety for each of the 5 psychological areas listed
Plan one practice or goal for each inclusive leadership belief. Be sure your plans are tangible and practical.
You don’t need to use all the statements right away, though working towards feeling comfortable—and natural—using the variety listed here (as well as others) is encouraged
Try starting with one for each psychological area, and then build from there once they’re second nature
“EXTRA CREDIT” — Write your own statement(s) that promote psychological safety to add to the original list!
If you feel comfortable, consider discussing with a trusted friend, colleague, confidant, etc. An outside perspective can be helpful and enlightening (especially if you’re feeling stuck).
Genuinely and authentically conveying these ideas is critical. If you say “nice words” and don’t mean them, others will know, and that can be more hurtful and make you less trustworthy than not saying them at all.
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