Is safety boring or dry? No doubt, safety can be a tough sell. There are many reasons employees including senior leaders view safety as boring or dry, but often the problem is how we as safety professionals, operations managers, and supervisors talk about safety. Even the words we use, think audit, inspection, investigation, and violation, have negative connotations. How we sound and look have a bigger influence on the receiver’s perception of safety.
We don’t need to work harder to change that perception, but we do need to work smarter. Especially now that the COVID-19 pandemic has turned many safety meetings from face to face to virtual.
Here are 3 things to think about whether you are in person or virtual:
Verbal - One key message. What is your “one” key message? Too often we try to cover multiple key points and they all get lost in the sauce. Focus on one. You will be lucky if they remember the one key message let alone multiple messages.
Vocal - How you sound. Does your passion come through or are you talking a little above a whimper? Do you pause for effect? A pause after a key point or fact gives the listener time to digest your point. Pauses are good, but too often, we get uncomfortable with dead space and feel the need to fill it in. Vary you pitch and project your voice.
Visual - How you look. Even on webcam, do you look interested or slightly bothered. Hold your chin up, shoulders back and make eye contact. On webcam, do your surroundings say you are organized or that you obviously failed to plan your week or get out of bed early enough to shower? You get bonus points for smiling.
Safety can be inherently negative and boring if all we talk about is compliance, audits, and inspections. I am not suggesting that we attempt to put a positive spin on serious incidents. That would be disingenuous. I am saying that we should not miss an opportunity to talk about the benefits of our safety programs. I also believe if safety truly comes from our heart, we will smile and it will come through in what we say, how we sound and look. We will smile because we working to send more people home safe every day so they can enjoy the things in life they love the best. There is nothing boring about that.
Safety is only boring if we make it boring.