When the Shit Hits the Fan


Dear Amy and Kim, it’s all very well to tell your dear followers, “4 ways to help you to speak up in the workplace“, only for these readers to try and find out that speaking up doesn’t always go as planned and the shit hits the fan. Then they remembered why they avoided disagreeing with their manager in the first place.

The point is that most, if not all, experts seem to be leaving out something very important ie.
What do we do when we speak up, and the shit hits the fan?
The psychology experts seem to think this is just a “minor issue,” and that you can figure out a solution yourself. Here is a quote from Kim Scott on the subject:

“If the other person thinks you’re being obnoxious, you need to figure out how to communicate more effectively with that person”

Fast Company article: Follow these 4 steps to create psychological safety in your teams by @Amy_Edmondson and @Kim_Soctt

Kim, Amy and other experts seem oblivious to the possibility that this is and always was the reason people don’t speak up in the first place ie. Fear of derision, fear of conflict and by not supplying a standard agreed-upon intervention to use when someone gets browbeaten, makes them culpable, in my view, unless they disclose that.

Yes, sure, if the speaker and listener had read their article on Fast Company and adhered to the 4 points perfectly, there would be no need for a standard intervention. But people being people, we will always, on occasion, lose our cool when we disagree, no matter who we are and how many articles we read or workshops we attend.

In the original definition of psychological safety from 1965 it went like this:

“Psychological safety is an atmosphere where one can take chances…..without fear &
with sufficient protection.”

EDGAR SCHEIN & WARREN BENNIS 1965 – PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY – WIKIPEDIA

The “sufficient protection” seems to be left out of todays definition and so too is the real-world protection or intervention needed for us to feel safe to speak up and disagree.

I believe we will have a significant shift in team collaboration when we develop sufficient intervention standards that we can all agree to use. My proposed standard intervention to protect us when the shit hits the fan is SpatzAI – an intervention toolkit to resolve micro-conflict in teams.

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