If psychological safety is so damaging, and the benefits of protecting psychological safety so great, why don’t we give it the same attention in society as we do physical safety? Only now are we beginning to understand its importance and impact thanks to the recent advancements in neuroscience.
For example, research shows that a “hit” to our
can have a deeper and longer lasting impact than a “hit” to our physical selves. Social rejection has the same impact on the brain as a punch in the face (Eisenberger 2012). Over time the pain associated with a physical attack is difficult or impossible to recall. The memory of social rejection, however, many years later after the fact can elicit the same strength of emotion as it did at the time of the event. When we experience an attack to our psychological safety, our brain is triggered into a stress response. Our cognitive abilities are compromised. Our higher more logical brain, the one for thinking, creativity, decision making and self-control, goes off-line. In this derailed state we can find it difficult to concentrate, make decisions or control our emotions. Maintaining psychological safety is an important factor for optimizing our performance and wellbeing.