How Does Safety Make You Feel?

April 19 2021
By: Terry L. Mathis

The poet Maya Angelou noted, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." When safety professionals or safety observers talk to workers, how does that make them feel? When supervisors talk to workers about safety, how does that make them feel? Do they feel coached and cared for or do they feel criticized or belittled?

How Does Safety Make You Feel? We have been told by psychologists that human beings react emotionally before they react rationally. We have also been told that when respect is lost in a conversation it triggers a flight-or-fight response that basically shuts down communication. Yet, we persist in managing safety by policing rather than coaching. We think of communication as dishing out information and ignore the fact that the message sent must also be received to complete the process. World class safety performers carefully set the tone of safety communication as well as the content.

Terry L. Mathis

Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.