When it comes to interacting with other people in a work environment, there are times when we choose not to say what we really think… our own fears and instincts for self-preservation often cause us to hold back.
— Ed Catmull EC Ed Catmull , Creativity, Inc.
Fear is the main barrier to candor. In an environment where people fear the negative repercussions of speaking their mind, candor is inhibited. In unsafe environments, people become defensive and emotional resorting to passive or aggressive behavior. Therefore, creating a safe environment is essential to encourage candor and disagreement. In a safe environment, people will feel like they can provide feedback freely. In a safe environment each participant feels like they can share ideas or opinions, but more importantly, that they are heard and valued.
In Crucial Conversations , the authors define mutual purpose and mutual respect as the key elements of a safe environment.
- Mutual purpose is the foundation on which the conversation can be built
- Mutual respect is what allows the conversation to continue
[In a safe environment,] you don’t have to choose between telling the truth and keeping a friend.
—Joseph Grenny, Crucial Conversations