Establishing trusted relationships

Credit: Joshua Hoehne,
  • Psychological safety is not about being nice ‒ Working in a psychologically safe environment doesn’t mean that people always agree with one another for the sake of being nice. It also doesn’t mean that people offer unequivocal praise or unconditional support for everything you have to say. Psychological safety is about candour, about making it possible for productive disagreement and free exchange of ideas. Conflict inevitably arises in any workplace. Psychological safety enables people on different sides of a conflict to speak candidly about what’s bothering them, without the disagreement feeling highly personal.
  • Psychological safety is not a personality factor ‒ Some have interpreted psychological safety as a synonym for extroversion. They might have previously concluded that people don’t speak up at work because they’re shy or lack confidence, or simply keep to themselves. Psychological safety, however, refers to the work climate, and climate affects people with different personality traits in roughly similar ways. In a psychologically safe climate, people will offer ideas and voice their concerns regardless of whether they tend toward introversion or extroversion.
  • Psychological safety is not just another word for trust ‒ Although trust and psychological safety have much in common, they aren’t interchangeable concepts. A key difference is that psychological safety is experienced at a group level.
  • Psychological safety is not about lowering performance standards ‒ Psychological safety is not an ‘anything goes’ environment where people aren’t expected to adhere to high standards or meet deadlines. It is not about becoming ‘comfortable’ at work or allowing people to ‘coast’. Psychological safety enables candour and openness and, as such, thrives in an environment of mutual respect.
  1. If you make a mistake on this team, it is often held against you. (R)
  2. Members of this team are able to bring up problems and tough issues.
  3. People on this team sometimes reject others for being different. (R)
  4. It is safe to take a risk on this team.
  5. It is difficult to ask other members of this team for help. (R)
  6. No one on this team would deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts.
  7. Working with members of this team, my unique skills and talents are valued and utilised.




Product at Intercom, author of "My Product Management Toolkit" and “Managing Product = Managing Tension” — see

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Product at Intercom, author of "My Product Management Toolkit" and “Managing Product = Managing Tension” — see

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