Industrial and agricultural workers know the importance of a safe work environment. But Safety means more than identifying hazards and wearing protective equipment. Our emotions and how we treat our coworkers make a big difference in how safe a workplace is. Expressing our emotions in healthy ways can not only make our workplace a more pleasant place to work, but it also has the power to reduce accidents and injuries!
What is Psychological Safety at Work?
For Workplace Safety Month we are focusing on “Psychological Safety,” which is a term to describe how secure workers feel in an environment. It can include how an employee feels about what their managers think of them, to how protected they feel from potentially dangerous situations. A workplace that can be described as psychologically safe encourages team members to share their thoughts without fear of punishment. Coworkers and managers build each other up, instead of belittling or mocking each other. If someone makes a mistake, they can feel secure that their job isn’t at risk, and people can learn from each other rather than feeling like they have to know everything from the start.
5 Ways to Express Our Emotions Safely
Part of making a workplace psychologically safe is keeping our emotions from getting the better of us. Keeping calm and expressing ourselves in healthy ways can make our work environment safer by reducing stress overall. If you feel yourself getting angry because of a coworker’s actions or stressed out over a mistake you made, here are some ways to express these emotions in a healthy way
- Take a breath: When we feel strong emotions, our heart rate and breathing changes. To keep from getting overwhelmed in the moment, take a few deep breaths before reacting. This soothing act will give you the oxygen boost you need, regulate your heartbeat, and help you calm down.
- Don’t play the blame game: Negative interactions with our coworkers and bosses can leave us feeling angry, anxious, or sad. To process these emotions in a healthy way, it helps not to blame others by thinking, “They made me feel this way.” Most of the time, people don’t deliberately try to make you feel any particular way. They are just acting how they’ve learned to behave. Try thinking about it by centering yourself, like, “When people act this way, I feel _____________” That way, you are in control of your emotions and can explore them without needing someone else to alter their behavior first.
- Let It Out Before it Boils Over: Taking a healthy approach to our emotions doesn’t mean that we have to hide what we’re feeling. “Bottling up” and holding back what we really feel can have negative effects on our relationships and health! After you’ve taken a breath to calm down, it’s time to share what you’re feeling with your team. You may be surprised at how much it helps both you and your coworkers, to talk about how you’re feeling. If it doesn’t feel safe to speak up to someone directly, you may want to enlist the help of HR for mediation, or use the EFAP program that Nutrien offers for all staff members.
- Be Proactive instead of Gossiping: No matter how pesky a coworker’s breakroom habits are, try to resist talking idly with other employees about them. Instead, work work to change things with the coworker directly. When we gossip about coworkers, we can become resentful of them and build our frustrations. Gossip also damages workplace morale for everyone, and if it gets back to the person you’ve spoken about, your relationship might be permanently damaged.
- Think of Problems like Challenges: Having difficulties with other coworkers can feel overwhelming at times. But, like everything in the workplace, you can change the way you think of them to approach them strategically. Instead of seeing relationship friction as a problem that will never go away, think of them as challenges that you can overcome with hard work. As emotions become less charged and relationships with your coworkers improve, you will feel a sense of achievement knowing that you did the work to be more open in the workplace.