Myths about Psychological Safety

Tuesday, August 3 2021

Two of the most frequently used terms right now include the word “pandemic” and “do you see my screen?”. But, another term is coming up a lot for leaders and that’s “psychological safety”.

With the uncertainty and changes we’ve faced during the last 18 months; it is no wonder employees are looking for safety and stability. And smart leaders are pursuing new ways to accommodate them.

Psychological safety in the workplace allows us to be able to express our feelings and opinions without fear of repercussions and punishment. As the term has been popularized, so also have the myths about it.

Three Myths About Psychological Safety:

#1. The level of psychological safety should be the same in the entire organization.


Psychological safety exists in pockets, varies from team to team, from department to department, sometimes from one small group of people to another within the same team. Feeling safe means very different things to different people. It depends on an individual’s previous experiences, upbringing, and personal traits. Attempts to create something that will affect everybody the same way can be a waste of time. Instead, every leader needs to ask their team members what works for them and adapt company-wide practices accordingly.

#2. Psychological safety guarantees comfort.

Not at all.

It might still feel very uncomfortable to disagree with more experienced team members or point out a manager’s mistakes. Many individuals must gather up all their courage just to speak up at a meeting. What psychological safety can provide is the elimination of fear of being reprimanded for having a different point of view.

It’s important for leaders to remind their team members that feeling uncomfortable, pushing the boundaries and stepping outside of their comfort zones are all signs of personal growth and these are welcomed in the workplace.

#3. Once created, a psychologically safe environment lasts forever.

Wishful, but false.

Psychological safety evolves and develops with every new team member who comes on board. This may not be what leaders would like to hear, as it means more work… but, it means that a leader’s work is never boring. Jokes aside, it also means that change will be less stressful; new employees will reach their full potential faster; and growth and development will become a part of the company’s identity.

Creating a psychologically safe environment in the workplace takes patience, dedication, and open-mindedness. As we transition from the pandemic, businesses will find it is absolutely necessary in order to attract and keep the best talent, and to achieve success and stability.