Under the Bus: Harsh Words Kill Psychological Safety

Have you ever had someone publicly disrespect and embarrass you? It can be a really tough situation to navigate for everyone involved.

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This week I’m sharing a workplace scenario from our Respect at Work Psychological Safety training about two coworkers that shared an awkward exchange in front of a new group of employees they were training.

As you watch this scenario I want you to think of some of the subconscious ways we divide ourselves and express superiority.That could be race, gender, religion, education level – anything. In this scenario, we’re calling it “Hammerheads and Lemons” but this scenario is actually based on a true story experienced by one of our consultants years ago where they were separated into Men (Hammerheads) and Women (Lemons).

This scenario invites us to reflect on how our words and actions can create an environment that doesn’t exactly promote Psychological Safety. David’s comments towards Gianna were hurtful, but it’s also important to remember they weren’t the only ones in the room. David’s comments caused a disconnect and lack of psychological safety for everyone who had to witness the exchange.

This week, I’m inviting you to reflect on the following questions

  • At what point does joking/sarcasm become bullying? What are some productive ways to address it?
  • Have you ever found yourself jealous of a peers’ opportunities at work? Did you treat that person differently? How did you manage those feelings?
  • David was blatantly disrespectful towards Gianna who was his peer, do you imagine that he would treat the CEO the same way? Why or why not?

Have you ever been the David or Gianna in this scenario? I would love to “hear” your thoughts and experience on this. Comment below or send me a DM. Let me know what came up for you!

This week’s scenario comes from our Respect at WorkPsychological Safety training. Our training consists of employee-centered Psychological Safety conversations and team building exercises which will help employee’s learn tools for managing stress, explore the consequences of what they say and do, consider the assumptions they make about those they work with, and redefine what it means to contribute to a psychologically safe work environment. Use the link below to inquire about training for your group!