Successful meeting cultures: why you don’t want to break the psychological safety barrier

ssssscrape, knock-knock-knock

Peter: “Hey Wendy, I heard from Bob what you two have been up to. That’s quite a bit of change in how we think of and run meetings, and quite a few new skills that we all need to learn!”

Me (Wendy): “Yes, but we’re modeling it, and we will get better as we practice.”

Peter: “True. I’ll need you two’s help in getting this right.”

Me: “Sure, you can count on us.”

Peter: “But hey, one of the teams right now seems to be thrashing. What can we do to help them?”

Me: “Hmm, you’re talking about  the video production team, right?”

Peter: “Yes, that’s the one.”

Me: “I know we need to solve the team’s thrashing, but there is a fundamental issue in that team – the lack of psychological safety.”

Peter: “Psychological safety? What’s that?”

Me: “In a nutshell, it means you can express ideas and opinions freely without the fear of humiliation or retribution. Based on what I’ve seen happen in the team during their meetings, a lot of them are afraid to speak up. Psychological safety is the foundation and bedrock of any productive interactions and fruitful relationships.”

Peter: “So how do we instill psychological safety into a team or a meeting? Or am I even asking the right question?”

Me: “This is going to be quite a long discussion if we’re going to tackle that team’s thrashing problem. How about we book a separate time to discuss this? Before we meet, I’ll send out a document that sets up the context with my observations. You and Bob can read before we meet. How does that sound?”

Peter: “Ok. Since it’s a tricky issue, can we meet soon about this?”

Me: “Yes, let me schedule one for the day after tomorrow. I’ll send the doc with the context by end of day today for you and Bob to read”

Peter. “Ok, sounds like a plan.”


Me: “Hey Bob, Peter and I just talked. He seems willing to learn new skills and said he needs our help to ensure he’s thinking about and running meetings correctly.”

Bob: “Sure, I’m happy to help.”

Me: “Good, ‘cos I told him he can count on us 😉 .  BTW, he mentioned the video production team thrashing, and asked what he can do to help. I told him that team lack psychological safety. Peter doesn’t know what that means. So, I figured you and I should get on the same page before talking to Peter about it.”

Bob: “Oh! That’s going to be a long discussion, especially when Peter has no clue what psychological safety is. Yea, let’s put our heads together on it!”

Read Wendy’s entire story here

If you want to know more about how to apply psychological safety in your day-to-day work, check out the foundation of psychological safety.


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