How to Be Safe – Really

Stay Safe!

This is how many of us thoughtfully end a conversation these days. Masks and social distancing are critically essential to our well-being.

But when it comes to safety, we’re got equally serious work ahead for our teams and in our communities.

Not to devalue the mask! It's an awesome example of our pro-social, caring and conscientious behavior to universally care for everyone around us. My mask helps protect your physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and economic well-being. And your mask does the same for me.

Beyond the Mask How Do We Create Safety?

Beyond the mask, let\'s look at the safety expressed through our words and behaviors in social situations – from school to church, Facebook, political dialogue, team meetings or with your colleagues, regardless of how long you’ve known them.

I’m talking about Inclusion Safety because the physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and economic consequences of ignoring this remain as contagious and deadly as any pandemic.

Literally leaving us ill and unable to function at full capacity.

Think about this. When was the last time one of these things happened to you?

  1. Excluded in a social setting.
  2. Afraid to ask a question.
  3. Stayed silent when you knew the answer.
  4. Someone stole credit for what you did.
  5. Ignored or dismissed in a conversation.
  6. Rudely interrupted.
  7. Responded to dismissively.
  8. Target of a negative stereotype.
  9. Faced retaliation for challenging the status quo.
  10. Publicly shamed, mocked or made fun of.
  11. Punished for an honest mistake.
  12. Contribution was minimized as insignificant or irrelevant.
  13. Treated as less than or inferior for being different.

*List adapted from LeaderFactor, Inclusion Safety

Or think of it this way. If a large survey were to be conducted, what percentage of people might say they have experienced or witnessed these behaviors in the last 24 hours?

Social Exclusion Literally Hurts!

Ample research points to the consequences of social exclusion. It hurts – literally! Emotional and physical pain activate similar regions in the brain. So just like physical pain, social pain can derail us for days, or longer. And when we feel excluded, not welcomed, not appreciated and not valued, you and I will withhold our performance, engagement, problem-solving and solutions.

Because the risk is not worth the reward.

Here’s more about what research says, taken from a Harvard longitudinal study on a wide variety of organizations and reported by the LeaderFactor:

It’s called responding with a defensive performance. And it’s EXACTLY what we don’t need now. We need hands, heads and hearts all together for collaborative solutions.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out inclusive behavior.

But it does take intention, emotional self-awareness and empathy. It takes a calling to serve as a first among equals, which means power-with, not power-over.

Add Inclusion Safety to Your Daily To-Dos

Here’s a couple of thoughts to add to your practice of Inclusion Safety (and if it isn’t a practice that you readily name and claim, then start today), taken from the 4 Stages of Psychological Safety.

  • Teach inclusion as a human right – it\'s not earned, but rather inherently owed.
  • Acknowledge that we are hyper-social creatures who need one another.
  • Worth always comes before worthiness. We are all worthy of inclusion without having to prove anything.
  • Ask twice as much as you tell.

Add Inclusion Safety to Your Bottom Line Analysis

Basically, the bottom line looks like this: If you want to create pain and poor performance, keep up the exclusionary behaviors. You may gain short-term rewards, but there will always be longer-term consequences. Or, embrace inclusive behaviors.

One path leads to conquer and control, the other leads to collaboration and fulfillment. We make a choice with every action. Which are you choosing today?

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