EHSDA Shorts: Emotional Intelligence in Safety Culture

On this week’s episode of EHSDA Shorts, we hear from Tiffany Castagano, CEO & Founder of CEPHR LLC, about how practicing emotional intelligence contributes to building a better safety culture. Tune in to hear her insights.

Transcript (edited for clarity):

Question: How does practicing emotional intelligence contribute to building a better safety culture?

Castagano: When we step outside of ourselves and we’re able to manage our own emotions and be self-aware and take the pulse of what might be going on with ourselves, then we can move into this social context where we’re looking at, you know, how are we reading the room?

Oh, it seems like maybe this person is upset about this, maybe that message didn’t land. Maybe I shouldn’t say that this on them because they took it that way. We want to be caring for others back to the accountability that you mentioned in the love and support that you talked about in the chat. We want to be able to get along with each other and to handle conflict effectively because when we have a lot on our minds or we’re not able to self-regulate, we aren’t working safely.

Whether it’s for purposes of our mental health, and/or that can impact mistakes and misses or near misses and we don’t want that to happen either.

So, the better we communicate, the more we understand and collaborate across the organization and across teams, is really supportive of having this high emotional intelligence and having the support that we need in the day-to-day. Empathy is listed up here, I’m a huge advocate of empathy.

Now, I’m not telling you that you have to feel all the things for all the people all the time. But what we want to do when we’re looking at creating a safety culture and a healthy culture in general, one that promotes growth and safety, is to be able to manage emotions, to be able to have some understanding and concern for someone else.

That the way that we message things, having empathy for a situation they might be encountering, Are there any barriers in their way? What can we do to help remove those, especially if they are physical? We don’t want trip hazards or anything like that. Making sure it says, you know, even under self-management, but I would put that under social and relationship management as well.

Acting in congruence with your values. One of the top things that I love to talk about is establishing your mission, vision, values. But then how do you live those out? If what I say and do is not built with integrity, and I tell you one thing here today, and then I’m acting a different way outside of that, you might not perceive me as trustworthy.

People need to trust you in order to have a culture of safety. And so, you want to be a safe space to have people feel safe if they made a mistake, to share that forward, and to be able to tell them as a team to be able to do that. So, it’s just having enough sensitivity to do that.

And so that’s, you know, these are the factors that we want to look at. And it’s especially important when you all talked about senior leadership. The buy-in starts from the top. Absolutely. And all of these matter in all of those contexts. But it’s first taking that pulse on who we are before we, you know, kind of attend to other situations.