Will that go well, if I don’t carry a safety harness?
Just a moment, I will go and get my safety harness from the technical centre and then do the job. It will just have to wait these 10 minutes.
10 minutes are quite a long time. By then, I could have done the job three times...
It won’t go too bad... How often have I done this job and how often did I get hurt doing it? No risk, no fun.
I certainly want to wear the safety harness. I think it’s much too dangerous without it.
Wearing the safety harness I don’t have enough freedom of movement. That could be dangerous as well – or at least the job would take longer than planned.
I could surely find a possibility to be safe and thus work safely – even without safety harness.
Keep calm everyone! It won’t work like this. This discussion takes too much time already and we still have enough to do today. We do know how to move safely on a roof, don’t we?
ALL OF THEM:
Of course there have been severe injuries from falls, but not in our team. We are certainly no beginners.
Next time, I will think of the safety harness ahead of time, so I don’t need to go all the way twice and I am safe anyway.
So, let’s do this job now and then off to the next job!
Ah, there you go... these 10 minutes can be saved. We can move in a professional way without falling down, even without safety harness.
At this point, fate takes its course. The further course of this story, however, we rather leave to your imagination.
I wonder whether you really believe that this discussion took place?
Oh yes, it took place! But in fact, there weren’t seven service workers – only one! And you wouldn’t have been able to listen to the discussion. Because it all happened within this man. We call these voices the inner team. It consists of different characters, is always active and always many-voiced.
Only after having heard all voices the service worker came to a decision. Let us hope that it turned out all right this time.
The inner dialogue
The inner dialogue refers to Das Innere Team/The Inner Team, by Friedemann Schulz von Thun.
Each of us knows this situation: If we listen into ourselves, we rarely find only one single “voice” speaking about a certain situation or subject. There are different inner voices, who seldom agree, and who all make efforts to influence our external communication and our actions. If a person needs to take a difficult decision they enter into an inner dialogue. The following voices are very common.
The inner driver:
Character – They look ahead and want to get things done
Value – Performance
Slogan – Let’s do it, close your eyes and hope for the best! No way back anymore!
The cool head:
Character – They evaluate, stay calm even in very hectic situations and rely on facts
Value – Rationality
Slogan – Concentrate on facts and evaluate advantages and disadvantages
The one with self-doubts:
Character – They are never certain, always afraid to fail, to be overburdened or to make mistakes
Value – Suspicion / uncertainty
Slogan – Isn’t that too much for you?
The careful one
Character – They rather step back than break new ground, rely on routines, and new things rather scare them
Value – Prudence
Slogan – Rather do it the way you know
The communicative one:
Character – They need others and discussion. Thinking is easier if they are allowed to talk while thinking
Value – Together
Slogan – First of all, I need the others’ opinions
The creative head:
Character – They are curious, want to try new thinks, to move on...
Value – Development
Slogan – Wow, there are masses of new opportunities coming up
Character – They want to discover and find everything new interesting
Value – Boldness
Slogan – I am excited to find out what is awaiting me
The comfortable one:
Character – They concentrate on what is necessary and strive to find easy, not strenuous, solutions
Value – Calm and quality of life
Slogan – I don’t want to have to make yet another choice
Did you recognise the different characters of our example?
Colleague A – The comfortable one
•Colleague B – The adventurer
Colleague C – The one with self-doubts
Colleague D – The cool one / the inner driver
Colleague E – The careful one
Colleague F – The creative head
But why do these different voices exist?
Each voice represents one facet of our own personality. Often, they consider a situation from different perspectives and discuss conflicts between our values. The efficient use of resources like time and strength are always a factor in the discussion, often enough also risk tolerance and the appeal of novelty. As values, we repeatedly find efficiency and self-protection. Sometimes, entrepreneurial advantages play a role as value.
Consciousness versus routine (…and bad habits)
Actually, it should be child’s play to use our brain to soberly think the facts of a situation over and stop bad habits. Why, however, do so many people fail at their good resolutions? Why is it so often that we don’t wear the PPE?
In our hypothetical example about the inner team, reason prevails up to the Last Minute Risk Assessment, since it was part of a learnt routine. However, as the result seemed to be unpleasant and a personal decision was needed the comfortable and adventurous voices dominated.
Unfortunately, even in our everyday life, inner dialogues are not always objective and their final decisions are not always guided by the facts of a situation. Past experience takes much more influence because of two reasons.
Firstly, speaking in terms of evolution, the brain areas saving routines are very old – dinosaurs had them. After all, routine and repetition were important for surviving even in prehistoric times.
Secondly, processes in the routine brain areas are carried out fast as lightning. Processes of conscious acting, however, need more time. The old brain area offers a routine to save time and effort, long before conscious perception and valuation of facts have taken place. This, however, does not always lead to the correct result. So for emotional reasons we have decided to work without PPE long before our consciousness gets active. And then we look for apparently objective reasons in order to justify ourselves.
Why our brains love routine
Routines make life easier, since habits help our brains save energy. We write and read in an effortless way once we have learnt these processes. All habits – even the bad ones – work on the principle of routine, having developed from successful experience.
The “Last Minute Risk Assessment”, LMRA, is a method companies should give to their single workers and make them practice it. This method asks for some thinking time before starting a job if the situation is not exactly known. It is a guided process of rationally assessing a situation in order to produce safe action. However, during this process an inner dialogue takes place, which finally and decisively influences the action that follows, even before the LMRA has been completed. Thus, it is no surprise that the LMRA does not always lead to the desired safe action.
If we want employees and colleagues to wear safety harnesses, we need to change their routines. We have to question their established action, actively discuss new actions with them and, above all, train it. Training is especially important to create new routines of action. Words and thoughts are important to set values which influence action; however, they do not determine action by themselves.
Management and experts have to make clear in a believable way, again and again, that they won’t tolerate any action other than safe action. Thus, values and actions of the employees will change. Very slowly, of course, but slowly but surely we will get there.
Using LMRA should always start with intensive “consciousness-raising” characterised by “real dialogue”, discussion and repeated reviews.
LMRA needs to be trained and practiced intensively to become a personal routine, to increasingly drown out the voices of the comfortable one and the adventurer as part of our everyday routine.