Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate the gift of family or reconnect with loved ones. The word “family” originally referred to anyone living under one roof1. However, a more modern take on this is that “family” can refer simply to any group of people you feel particularly close with. Fundamentally being with this family is where we feel safe, loved and content, creating authentic behaviour.
Psychological safety refers to a climate in which people are comfortable being and expressing themselves1, and this is built on mutual respect and acceptance between individuals2. These groups can range from teams at work, to families at home. Being in a psychologically safe environment allows us to be more authentic* in our behaviours and express how we truly feel. When we don’t feel safe, we can shy away from the spotlight, be more conservative with ideas, sometimes becoming defensive. Being authentic helps us to build trust with those around us and encourages creative and innovative thinking.
Reflection: Where do you feel psychologically safe? Are there certain people that help you be more authentic at work and at home?
Once we feel safe and secure, we can begin to focus on our other fundamental human needs. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, one of our core psychological needs, is the need to be loved and have relationships3. Presuming our basic needs for food, water and safety are met, if our need for love and connectedness is not, then we cannot perform or feel at our best. This is true both in work and at home. Being with family can be the perfect place to meet this psychological need, especially over the festive period, when many of us have time away from work. However, it is useful not to forget about this whilst we’re at work, as having colleagues who support and encourage us will help us be more authentic and productive.
Reflection: Do you feel supported at work to be yourself and perform at your best?
When we feel content, relaxed or calm this is the best time for our bodies and minds to recuperate and recharge. Which is linked to the necessity of sleep, as mentioned in our earlier blog. For many of us the festive period brings hectic gift buying, winter weather illnesses and logistical nightmares, so we spend a lot of time feeling stressed and burnt-out. Spending time with the extended family can even elicit some of these feelings! However, once the commotion has ended, it is important to take time to renew and prepare ourselves for the next year. Being with family over the festive period is a great way to engage with feelings of trust, love and calm, which all help our bodies and minds rejuvenate, repair and renew.
Reflection: Recognise the times you’ve felt stressed over the festive period – have you given yourself enough time to renew?
My challenge to you this festive season is to reflect on the environment you have around you and ask yourself these three questions:
- Are you feeling safe?
- Are you feeling loved?
- Are you feeling content?
If so, how can you bring this feeling into the workplace in the New Year? Perhaps creating a simple 21-day habit change would help guide you to maintain a renewed mindset as you start the new working year.
* The EIP3 scale defines Authenticity as “The degree to which you invite the trust of others by being principled, reliable, consistent and known”
- Edmondson, A. C., Kramer, R. M., & Cook, K. S. (2004). Psychological safety, trust, and learning in organizations: A group-level lens. Trust and distrust in organizations: Dilemmas and approaches.
- Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological review, 50(4)