Amy Edmondson defines psychological safety as “a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.” In a nutshell, for a team to speak up, take risks, and share radical ideas, they will need to feel protected from so-called naysaying behavior.
I don’t think the problem is going to be fixed by creating “a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking”, per se. The problem, I think is the actual and real behavior of naysaying, pessimism, and conservative thinking that can occur in teams and organizations and having no agreed recourse in how we should tackle such behavior. This is the type of behavior we can all fall into at times, getting stuck in our own dogma, and getting blinded to any other possibilities that may threaten our own ideas.
So, how do we stop this naysaying behavior? We simply agree to object to this type of delivery in real-time, leaving us with more objective viewpoints, and isn’t that what we all want from a team. It is hardly rocket science, in my view. However, as simple as it sounds when was the last time you objected to someone’s naysaying behavior, using specifically “I object”, when they poorly delivered their feedback?
So, how do we know when we are being objective in our thinking, or when we have naysayer thinking, while offering feedback? Pretty easy, I say. We can detect each other’s subjectivity in how we deliver the content of our feedback. If we raise our tone and volume and get hot under the collar, being cynical, labeling each other or being overly dogmatic, it is more than likely that we have naysayer thinking.
“Erk! That will never work!!” (with scoffing facial expression)
This would be an example of objectionable feedback from someone on our team using subjective naysayer thinking.
I would object to this delivery, asking the teammate if they could reiterate and be more objective and less dogmatic.
“I don’t think your idea will work because of …..”.
This is a more objective delivery that I would accept and listen to their reasoning and can much easier decide on the merits and logic of their feedback. It seems to be much easier to criticize than create. We should therefore be far more careful how we offer feedback and have as many protections in place as possible for our creators and their valuable creations.
I suggest using the Object123 algorithm, a three-step objection procedure to moderate any naysaying behavior. Suppose the naysayer wishes to challenge our objection, then our dispute it is automatically posted onto the dispute network to get reviewed by independent peers. Finally, a recommendation is made for the team and management to see.
So, now it is time to choose. After reading this post, how do you feel? Are you going to choose naysaying behavior or offer more objectively delivered feedback on this somewhat radical idea?
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