STEP 1, Suspend Your Agenda
There are 3 critical impediments to reviewing events and incidents:
- Carrying an agenda into the interview (suspend your agenda, bias awareness)
- Thinking of what to say next (which means you are not listening) and,
- Following a set process or form.
Each of these three common characteristics of safety interviews ensure there will be no:
- Active listening
- Plenty of Hidden agenda (and false claims of objectivity) and,
- The delivery of an investigation sausage.
The idea that investigators are neutral or objective is laughable. If you want to find out how NOT to investigate just look here: https://www.ioshmagazine.com/2021/06/15/how-conduct-effective-accident-investigation-interview. Here we see more agenda than could fit on a parliamentary schedule. Just look at all that is paraded as effective that is the opposite (https://safetyrisk.net/investigating-events-is-not-about-brain-farts/). Anyone in safety who starts an investigation methodology to police methods, has already lost the plot. Just carrying this methodology and metaphor in your head to an interview will load up the unconscious with all kinds of interrogative means that will be invisible but will unconsciously destroy any chance of a lesser biased outcome.
When we do the SEEK module (https://cllr.com.au/product/seek-the-social-psychology-of-event-investigations-unit-2-elearning/ ) and how to approach conversations post an event we use the following tool:
When you complete the SEEK module you will understand just how this tool works. None of these matches anything like what currently dominates the market in safety.
For the moment, you will see that the first stage of understanding a SEEK ‘event exploration’ is ‘suspend your agenda’. This is a pretty tough ask for anyone indoctrinated in the safety industry with the dictum of ‘telling’. The capability to NOT tell, nearly busts the brains and hearts of all who enrol in the SPoR Introductory module (https://safetyrisk.net/free-online-module-introduction-to-the-social-psychology-of-risk/ ). We are half way through the current group and the next free module commences in September.
It is pretty straight forward:
- If you agenda is zero, you won’t listen.
- If your agenda is cause, you won’t listen.
- If your agenda is behaviours, you won’t listen.
- If your agenda is safety crusading, you won’t listen.
- If your agenda is anything, you won’t listen.
Suspending agenda is not about no agenda but rather building the capability of letting everything go in order to ‘attend’ to the other. ‘Attending’ (or suspending agenda) is the foundation of all interviewing. This is where a simple understanding of questioning and open questions come in, and most in safety have no clue how to listen. This is confirmed by all who undertake the SPoR Introduction module (https://cllr.com.au/product/seek-the-social-psychology-of-event-investigations-unit-2-elearning/ ). In SPoR we call this iCue Listening (https://safetyrisk.net/conversational-icue/).
It takes a great deal of practice to learn STEP 1, suspend your agenda, but is can be done. This usually takes about 6 weeks into the Introduction module to get it. This first step is the beginning of doing safety differently. The key is the stop telling and start listening. And if you go to IOSH or these traditional safety investigations programs, nothing will change. You may never learn how to listen.
If you want to do the introduction module sign up for the free September group now (https://safetyrisk.net/free-online-module-introduction-to-the-social-psychology-of-risk ) or spaces to do SEEK are also available.