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Communicating Safety: Responding Positively to a Negative Issue

We cannot direct the winds, but we can adjust our sails.

 – Anonymous

When it comes to safety rules you cannot always have things your way. And, it’s possible you may not be correct in your thinking.  From time to time, safety rules change.  Sometimes, it’s easy to react negatively to changing rules– after all, you made it this far with the ‘old’ rules, right!

Safety rules, procedures, and equipment are going to change.  Sometimes that change is not good and creates a negative issue, but most of the time the change is designed to further mitigates the risk of injury. Consider responding in a positive way to your negative feelings and you will open your mind up to a different perspective.  If the change becomes a negative emotional issue we may never see positive change.  In all my years of consulting I have seen people reluctantly change their position on a safety rule when they realized the new rule was a good one, designed to prevent injury and save lives.

To communicate safety, safely we must keep an open mind.  Improving a safety culture requires us to get the facts and control the uncomfortable feelings we get by the advent of change.  “Because we have always done it that way” is a phrase nobody wants to hear, unless it is coming out of our own mouth.  Bear in mind that change is made easier once we realize that a positive change may begin with feeling negative.

Change management is the process of moving individuals and an overall organization from negative feelings to positive engagement.  Successful individuals are good at managing their ability to navigate through change in life and work.  The following ideas might help you to become a better safety communicator and manage change.

  • Get control of your emotions.  We have discussed this before.  Facts are true observations, and emotions turn into opinion.  Opinion is what we think and feel about something without the use of rational data that can help make a better decision that can lead to a positive outcome.  This data comes from observations that become fact.
  • Frame the issue.  This is another way of getting perspective on an issue.  A frame is like a barrier, or a container that allows us to examine all the facts, as well as feelings. Identify the results that can come about because of the change.  Then systematically identify the facts and feelings that should be included in the frame to make a wise decision. Once an issue is framed we may find that our negative view is a waste of time or worth further examination.
  • Figure out why the negative issue exists.  Everything happens because of previous practices, emotions, environments, and political situations.  Identify why a negative issue has come up and you may find a better solution that will keep it from becoming negative again in the future.
  • Learn from the experience.  No doubt, experience is a great teacher, but tuition is typically expensive.  If you have to continually go back to get the same experience and you are not learning…I think they call that insanity.

As we grow older and time passes by, it may become evident that what you thought was a negative issue was really not that bad. You will likely look back and think, “Heck, I probably over reacted to that issue.”  Our ability to deal with and cope with change that relates to safety shows that we are growing as a person.  Part of that personal growth is learning how to disagree.  Take time to gather facts – those that support AND detract from your belief about the change.  Set the emotions aside.  Then present the facts rationally.  Responding in a positive way to what you and others know is a negative issue, might influence the change to go in the correct direction.  Keep in mind that the safety goal is to communicate safety, safely creating a workplace where nobody gets hurt.

Thanks, and Be Safe!

Carl Potter, CSP

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FYI:

Communicating Safety, Safely is available as a safety workshop delivered to your workplace.  For more information email me at: carl@safetyinstitute.com

Conquest for Safety: Leadership Required is a new book by Carl Potter, CSP, CMC with Deb Potter, PhD., CMC and is available for pre press purchase.  Cover price is $39.95 but a limited pre-press price of $18.95 is available.  Books will be shipped on approximately December 15th, 2015. To order today CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

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