Emotional Safety with Dynamic Results
cSubs is delighted to have connected with training and consultancy provider Dynamic Results. We recently spent time in conversation with Henry J. Evans, their Change Excellence Officer, exploring some of the research behind their core concept of Emotional Safety®, and the powerful difference it can make in the workplace.
So what exactly is Emotional Safety®? Evans explained that all of this began when he and his colleague Colm Foster, PhD started questioning some of the fundamental teachings of Emotional Intelligence. Foster’s research and Dynamic Results’ case studies showed that some of the accepted advice was not necessarily the most effective. For example, rather than trying not to show emotion or anger in challenging workplace situations, Evans and Foster discovered that expressing your feelings can actually be a powerful way to move things forward, provided the exchange focuses on the behavior which prompted those feelings, and seeks positive action rather than recrimination. In other words, it’s ok to Get Angry, Not Stupid™ meaning you express what you are really feeling while remaining intelligent in that expression.
In order to generate Emotional Safety® in the workplace, and empower your staff to tell the truth faster, it is necessary to create an environment in which they feel comfortable sharing bad news. Your direct reports have to be able to tell you when things are going wrong, and you need to have those tough conversations with your boss too. In a time of remote working and increased stressors, the trust and empathy this requires are more important than ever before.
If you are not currently working in an emotionally safe environment, Evans recommends that showing empathy yourself is the first step towards creating one, and he shared two powerful pieces of advice to create a culture of emotional safety:
- Get straight to the point. Lead with the bad news, then move onto what can be done to alleviate the situation. Resist the temptation to start with praise or phony positivity (avoid the “feedback sandwich”), and don’t waste time explaining how bad it makes you personally feel.
- If you sense that now is not the right moment to present the news, let the recipient know you need to talk about a challenging situation and ask them to choose a good time for them to have that conversation. Allowing them to set the time and place gives them some control over the situation, and enables them to prepare to receive what you have to tell them.
Not only does operating in Emotional Safety® increase productivity on an individual level, Evans and Foster have discovered that emotionally safe companies tend to significantly out-perform their competitors, since problems are surfaced and addressed quickly, and staff who approach external negotiations with these same techniques find themselves more likely to accomplish their goals. Furthermore, Emotional Safety® is a concept which resonates around the world and can be a powerful way of finding common ground in cross-cultural working relationships. Evans described how he and his colleagues have successfully coached individuals from over 80 different countries in these techniques.
To learn more about developing a culture of Emotional Safety® in your workplace, we recommend Dynamic Results’ eSchool course https://dynamicresults.com/eschool/emotional-safety/. (They are currently offering a complimentary challenge, which you’ll also find at that link.) You can also read more about leadership and Emotional Safety® in Evans and Foster’s bestselling book, Step Up, https://dynamicresults.com/step-up/.