While out on a walk, another dog darted out of the owner’s garage and came charging at me and my pooches. In the ensuing chaos, one of my dogs slipped out of her collar and ran away — at full, gazelle-like sprint about a quarter of a mile uphill in the snow (seriously!). Miraculously, she was sitting outside my door when I made it home. She instinctively knew to go to her safe place.
I’ve been thinking about safety of a different sort as in my class we’re covering psychological safety. Harvard professor Amy Edmundson is the guru of this area and defines the concept as “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes.” It means feeling like you belong in the environment you’re in and it allows you to express emotion, trust others, admit struggles, ask for help, and raise concerns. It creates a safe place to be yourself.
It’s no surprise that safety is one of the lower tiers of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Whether running away from a growling dog or admitting to bewilderment on a topic, we need to first feel safe for anything constructive to follow. Do your part to cultivate the type of culture where it’s a secure place for others to land — both physically and psychologically.