The past 20 years the most successful program for the Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR) has been the Safety Conversations program. It doesn’t matter where I go in safety this shows up as the greatest need. It is simply a fact that most safety people have never been trained in the fundamentals of conversation, helping, listening and open questioning. There is nothing in the WHS curriculum or AIHS BoK that even attempts to get the fundamentals of conversation right. When one’s paradigm is control, injury rates and objects, there is simply no foundation upon which to build skills in conversation.
People who seek to control others can never ask open questions.
The beginning for effective conversations about risk is to shake off the very foundations of safety itself.
It is not the job of Safety to save others. Safety doesn’t save lives (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-people-dont-save-lives/). Nothing more prohibits the opportunity for an open conversation that the arrogance and superiority of ‘Safety saves’.
The beginning of helping others tackle risk is to NOT seek to control them. This is the starting point for a safety conversation.
The job of a good safety conversationalist is to help others better tackle risk. This cannot be practiced from a foundation in heroics (https://safetyrisk.net/no-gurus-no-stars-no-heroes-needed-in-safety/ ), salvation (https://safetyrisk.net/how-the-secular-is-made-sacred-in-safety/ ), zero (https://safetyrisk.net/learning-to-reject-zero/ ), marketing (https://safetyrisk.net/meerkat-mythology-in-safety/) paperwork (https://safetyrisk.net/its-always-about-paperwork/ ), hazards and regulation. None of the stuff that gets paraded about safety is any help in becoming an effective safety conversationalist.
The place to start any effective conversation about risk is to ‘suspend your agenda’ and approach the other in humility. This is before anyone opens their moth or asks anything. No-one is interested in how much regulation or procedure you have pumped into your head.
You can’t build a conversation on a paradigm of control, power and objects.
You will never become a good listener from the arrogance of ‘Safety saves’.
So, the start of the Safety Conversations program is about unlearning well before learning skills in listening. Safety will never move forward in effective conversation until it drops much of the standard rubbish that gets paraded about the safety space as essential.
No-one in the field of work gives a toss about injury rates, paperwork and the spruiking of regulation. If you want to kill off any hope of conversation then just make sure your first question is about risk assessment paperwork. And no amount of ‘small talk’ is helpful either, and this is also a common safety myth.
After some considerable work in unlearning safety myths (https://safetyrisk.net/standing-on-the-myths-of-safety/ ), one is then ready to start learning how to ask open questions, how to listen, how to facilitate and ‘help’ others make decisions about risk. If this is not your goal and style then you’ll just be another mindless safety ‘teller’. Safety is not about telling, it’s about helping, and without effective conversations about risk, it’s not likely that anyone will be ‘helped’.
In SPoR we call the ability to be an effective conversationalist your risk ‘iCue’ (https://safetyrisk.net/concept-mapping-risk-icue/). Your iCue is your intelligence quotient in understanding risk and helping others to understand risk. When anyone first starts in SPoR, this is what we do: unlearn safety myths and re-learn the basics of conversational iCue. In the 20 years we have been doing this we have found that it works (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/it-works-a-new-approach-to-risk-and-safety/).