Facilitating Bids for Connections in Safety

January 29 2024
By: Shawn M. Galloway

Drs. John Gottman and Julie Gottman, known for their work on marital stability and divorce prediction, have a term worth exploring to improve relationships at work, "bids for connection." Two people talking to each other in an office setting.

A bid for connection might sound like this:

  • Hi, how is your day going?
  • Did you see last night's game?
  • Working on anything fun or interesting?

They might also look like this:

  • Sharing a funny meme in a text.
  • Joining someone at a lunch table when there are empty tables nearby.
  • Prolonged eye contact with a smile and raised eyebrows when passing by.

These verbal and non-verbal behaviors all have an essential meaning. Can I have your attention? I want to connect with you. Leveraging this concept can also help significantly improve safety culture. Here are seven methods to help facilitate this becoming common.

  1. Open Communication Channels: Encourage employees to bid for safety connections by openly sharing concerns, observations, or suggestions about safety practices. This fosters a culture where individuals feel comfortable expressing their thoughts.

  2. Promote Easy-to-Use Reporting Systems: Establish reporting systems that allow employees to easily communicate safety issues or near-miss incidents. Acknowledge and address these reports promptly to reinforce the importance of contributing to improving safety and encourage this behavior to continue.

  3. Training and Education: Implement training programs focused on understanding the hazards and risks specific to their tasks, safety protocols, and why they were created, emphasizing everyone's role in maintaining a safe environment and contributing to the culture of safety excellence. This empowers employees to engage in safety practices actively.

  4. Recognition and Appreciation: Recognize and appreciate individuals who contribute positively to safety. This could include acknowledging those who identify potential hazards, propose improvements, or actively participate in safety initiatives.

  5. Team Building: Foster a sense of teamwork and collective responsibility for safety. Encourage collaboration and communication among team members, reinforcing that everyone plays a vital role in maintaining a safe workplace and that we are each other's keeper.

  6. Feedback Mechanisms: Establish mechanisms for providing feedback on safety-related bids. Constructive feedback reinforces the importance of individual contributions to safety and encourages continued engagement.

  7. Leadership Involvement: Leaders should actively participate in safety initiatives and demonstrate a commitment to creating a safe environment by participating in the six previous tactics and monitoring to ensure they work effectively. This sets a positive example and encourages others to engage in safety-related bids.

By integrating Drs. Gottman's concept of bids for connections into the safety culture, organizations can tap into their employees' collective awareness and efforts, creating a more dynamic and responsive approach to maintaining a safe workplace and a culture where we all care for each other. These are the relationships people do not want to leave. How are your relationships within your safety culture?

"It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being." — John Joseph Powell.

"Invisible threads are the strongest ties." — Friedrich Nietzsche.

"People leave traces of themselves where they feel most comfortable, most worthwhile." — Haruki Murakami.

Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.

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