Fighting Psychological Warfare

Last week I wrote about Kate and her experience of “psychological warfare” which is a culture where psychological safety does not exist. Upon reflection, Kate realised that while she created psychological safety for her team she did not create it for herself. So when she spoke up, her boss and others on the executive felt threatened and reacted with an array of avoiding, delaying and blame-shifting strategies.

Kate and I spoke about how she could have done things differently. In hindsight, she realised she needed to confront the situation much earlier and in a very tactful way.

Kate was familiar with my book about creating persuasive conversations so we discussed how she might have constructed the conversation with her boss. We agreed that she was not aware of the damage that was being caused and how that impacted on her ability to shine. So we focused on a diagram to help explain the situation. Figure 1 is the diagram we came up with.

It shows that staff react to the actions of management based on the emotions stirred in them. And that wrongful actions can fracture the fabric of an organisation’s culture. And in seeking safety, staff put up barriers. They don’t speak up. They hold on, even hide bad news.

8219693675?profile=originalDiagrams like this work very well as a conversation starter. Something to interest the other person, to demonstrate your deep thinking and to explain what is actually a complex situation.

We agreed that the other element of a persuasive conversation she needed was a story. Why? Because her message would have fallen on deaf ears if her boss was not emotionally ready to hear it. We make decisions on emotion first, logic second, if at all.

Kate had any number of stories of negative emotional impact, with staff literally quivering in their boots when interacting with the executive.

So as an avid reader of my posts, if you want to know the key to winning conversations and the process involved in influencing others I would be pleased to send you a free copy of my book. And if you want to go deeper into this, check out my Persuasive Adviser Program coming up on 29th and 30th March 2021.

Stay safe and build psychological safety!



Bryan's new book teaches you practical methods to cut through with your advice and make the impact you want to make. Available on Amazon or order here now.



Available on Amazon or order here now.

Bryan Whitefield works with strategic leaders across all sectors to help organisations harness uncertainty – uncertainty is the strategic leader’s best friend. He is the author of DECIDE: How to Manage the Risk in Your Decision Making and Winning Conversations: How to turn red tape into blue ribbon. He is the designer of the Risk Culture: Build Your Tribe of Advocates Program for support functions and the Persuasive Adviser Program for internal advisers. Both can be booked individually or in-house. For more information about Bryan, please click here.

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Bryan is a management consultant operating since 2001, specialising in risk-based decision making and influencing decision makers, born from his more than twenty years of facilitating executive and board workshops.

Bryan’s experience as a risk practitioner includes the design and implementation of risk management programs for more than 150 organisations across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

Bryan is the author of Risky Business : How Successful Organisations Embrace Uncertainty; Persuasive Advising : How to Turn Red Tape into Blue Ribbon, and Team Think : Unlock the Power of the Collective Mind [to be published in 2022].

He is licenced by the RMIA as a Certified Chief Risk Officer (CCRO) and is the designer and facilitator of their flagship Enterprise Risk Course since 2019.

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