Start Your Next Meeting with a WIFLE to Improve Psychological Safety
How do you create an environment where everyone feels comfortable being honest? What if we all felt safe and open to share our opinions, feelings, and perspectives on any topic that came up at work? To make this vision come true and improve psychological safety, there are three easy steps you can take: 1) Start your next meeting with WIFLE 2) Make it safe 3) Let everyone give their best ideas and feedback.
WHAT I FEEL LIKE EXPRESSING (WIFLE) is the best way to start any meeting, whether you’re talking about ways to make your team more productive or just coming up with fun ideas for a casual hangout.
I’ve been researching psychological safety the past few months to further my understanding of the gaps to fill this void in most workplace cultures. The key is to create an environment where each of us feels that it’s safe to share our vulnerabilities, feelings, and ideas openly and honestly with each other and implementing a WIFLE into your meetings is the most accessible way to improve the psychological safety of your organization.
Defining psychological safety
Psychological safety is about feeling seen, witnessed, and heard. It’s about feeling like you can be yourself without judgement or consequence. It’s about feeling like your ideas are valued and that you have a stake in the outcome of the meeting. Creating a WIFLE at the start of your next meeting will help improve psychological safety for everyone involved.
Use this acronym as an exercise for what you would like to share in the meeting:
WHAT I FEEL LIKE EXPRESSING – tell them how you’re feeling before the meeting starts to set the tone and as a metaphorical permission slip for others to be vulnerable as well.
Witnessed – ask if anyone has anything they want to say
Expressed – if someone shared something similar, make sure they know it was heard and validated
Left out – if someone said something but no one responded, repeat back what they said so they know it was seen and validated
Excited – show enthusiasm by asking questions and making observations; summarize key points; give suggestions on how things could be done differently next time; offer other resources. NOTE: If you choose to offer suggestions, please make sure to begin by asking if they’d like feedback (more on this soon).
The benefits of psychological safety
Psychological safety has been shown to have a number of benefits for both individuals and teams. Individuals who feel safe are more likely to take risks, which can lead to creativity and innovation. They’re also more likely to speak up about problems or concerns, which can help prevent issues from becoming bigger problems.
Teams with high levels of psychological safety are also more productive and effective. They’re able to have open and honest conversations, which leads to better decision making. And because team members feel comfortable taking risks, they’re more likely to come up with new ideas and solutions.
Why WIFLE improves psychological safety
When team members feel like they can express what they’re feeling, they’re more likely to trust and feel comfortable around their colleagues. This leads to improved psychological safety, which is essential for effective teamwork.
Research has shown that teams that experience high levels of psychological safety are 12% more productive and 55% less likely to report symptoms of burnout than those that don’t. Further research from Harvard Business Review showed that psychological safety drives the majority of positive outcomes in organizations.
How to use the WIFLE exercise in meetings
I’ve been a part of Men’s Groups for a couple years now and I’ve been leading a bi-monthly Men’s group for 8 months at this point. First off, what is a Men’s Group?
It’s a group of Men that regularly meets to share their vulnerabilities with other Men as they continue to dive deep into their own psyches. I bring this up because I’d like to offer two important tips that I use in my Men’s Groups that can apply to how to use a WIFLE in any meeting.
1) Set the Container: As you introduce the concept of a WIFLE and why it’s important, express as well that this portion of the meeting will not be repeated to anyone that wasn’t a part of this particular meeting. Let them know it’s a safe space to fully express themselves.
2) Ask for Permission: Prior to beginning, you can tell the members of your meeting that there are three types of WIFLES. One, being simply a share and not seeking any responses. Another being that they are open to responses (clarifying questions, comments, suggestions). And the last is that the person sharing is specifically looking for responses (again, these responses would be through clarifying questions, comments or suggestions).
One last thing to note on using a WIFLE is to be mindful of the time your meeting is set for and how many people are in your meeting. For example, if you have over 10 people involved and it’s an hour-long meeting don’t suggest that everyone do a WIFLE (check-in). Rather, introduce the WIFLE concept and give space for any wanting to share to do so.
Ways to build on its success in future meetings
As mentioned, the use of a WIFLE in your meetings has the ability to improve productivity by getting everyone to share their thoughts and feelings openly. Here are two ways to build on its success in future meetings…
1) Before the meeting starts, have each person take five minutes to write down what they feel like expressing (e.g., happy, frustrated) or feeling (e.g., excited). Make sure there is enough time for everyone to finish writing and discuss their answers before starting.
2) At the beginning of the meeting, ask participants if they would like to share anything that they feel like expressing or feeling right now. Give them permission not to speak up if they don’t want to; simply pass along that no one is obligated to answer at all times.
The use of a WIFLE in your meetings, clearly indicates that when there’s a culture of psychological safety, people will take more risks and perform better on tasks. And you can improve your psychological safety through adopting the WIFLE strategy into your meetings.
In your next meeting, make sure you have time for everyone to talk about how they’re feeling – even if you think it might be difficult or uncomfortable for them at first. The benefits outweigh any potential discomfort!
Improving the mental well-being in your workplace culture is easier than it may seem. To learn more about how I can help in your quest of addressing the Mental Health Crisis, check out my website SamKabert.com.
To a More Fulfilling Life,
P.S. For more, check out this FREE guide with the 3 Undeniably Simple Tactics to Practice SOUL/Life Balance.