I See You

I See You

Jill James

Jill James

Chief Safety Officer

Jill James brings an unrivaled perspective on risk, regulation and liability. With 14 years of experience as a Senior OSHA Safety Investigator with the State of Minnesota, and nearly a decade in the private sector as a safety program manager, Jill is a passionate advocate for training ROI.

I see you. 

What does “I see you” mean to a safety professional, or to the workers we keep from harm? 

“I see you.”

I see you not wearing your safety glasses, again. 

I saw you take the machine guard off of that flywheel.

I see you haven’t completed any of your safety training courses

The safety person didn’t see me stand on the guardrail.

The safety person didn’t see us prop the exit doors open so our friend could get in the building. 

The safety person didn’t see us standing on the forklift tines to get to the roof. 

Sound like safety policing?

Do you have the sense that employees are trying to avoid getting a ‘safety ticket’ by staying out of your view, or engaging in unsafe working behaviors when you’re not around? 

Do you professionally feel like you are always looking for errors or fault? Or, that people are purposely skirting safety rules? 

Exhausting, isn’t it? Sort of gives our practice a stigma...

“Better not let the safety person see...”

“Hey Safety Pro, turn your head the other way for a minute.”

“Safety Pro, ease up, stop being such a nerd, live a little!” 

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Tiresome, exhausting clichés. 

How about we, as safety leaders, collectively decide to change this?

What if our words first meant, “I see your personality”, “I see your humanity”, or, “I see your dignity.” 

And, what if the response was “I am here.” I am here with you now; I am present. 

I see you

I am here. 

The African Zulu greeting, Sawubona means I see you. And, it’s response, Ngikhona means I am here.

Who among us doesn’t want to be seen and be truly present with one another?

Imagine an exchange allowing you to feel that you’ve been seen and understood, and that your personal dignity has been recognized.

Beautifully simple, yet difficult to practice in the fast-moving, fault-finding, blame-centered environments we know so well.

But we can make a shift in ourselves and model these exchanges with others. 

In the past number of months, I’ve been podcasting with safety professionals coast-to-coast, some with decades of experience; others with just a few years. I am hearing a common thread among all of them.

The thread is one of seeing people for who they are as fellow human beings and seeing people in their humanity first, not as rule followers or rule breakers. 

This practice of I see you, allows for real conversation to occur. Perhaps learning why someone performs the way they do and challenging assumptions on both sides regarding level of safety knowledge or understanding. 

My podcast guests have so many examples of how they put I see you, I am here into practice. Have a listen to any one of the episodes and you’ll be sure to hear it! 

We can all learn so much from one another. 

How do you practice, I see you? And, how has it impacted your work? I love a good story, so share one of yours—I am here!