Is a Conflict Resolution Strategy the Psychological Safety Strategy?

Unresolved conflict in the workplace is not something anyone wants; I think we all can safely agree?

So it makes sense that we should have a conflict management strategy to make the workplace physically and psychologically safe.

So which strategy comes first, a Psychological Safety strategy or a Conflict Management strategy?

Hmmm, good question, grasshopper.

Psychological safety refers to an agreement by team members that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking and captures a “sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject, or punish someone for speaking up” (Amy Edmondson, 1999).

Maybe an effective conflict management strategy IS the Psychological Safety strategy? 

Imagine if I contributed to a meeting and a team member raised their eyebrow when I suggested a solution to a problem. Or raised an air of condescending dismissal in their voice, or increased their volume, or was dogmatically told that “you’re wrong!”. These behaviors being designed to “embarrass, reject or punish” me for speaking up.

Now, what do I do? I could activate our “Psychological Safety” agreement for interpersonal risk-taking and use our “Conflict Resolution” agreement to OBJECT to any of these offending behaviors mentioned, in real-time.

Following the procedure below, we could nip-in-the-bud these misbehaviors before they became more coercive or toxic.

Could this be the same Psychological Safety that Amy Edmondson is renowned for?

Is a Conflict Resolution Strategy a Psychological Safety Strategy?

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