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#57: Finding the Courage with Scott and Krista Geller - COVID-19 Special

May 20, 2020 | 1 hour 10 minutes 59 seconds

In this star-studded episode of the Accidental Safety Pro, series host Jill James gets the opportunity to interview Scott and Krista Geller, who have been teaching and inspiring generations of safety and health professionals.

If you’ve ever said the words “behavior-based safety”, Dr. Scott Geller said them first, literally. He wrote the book Understanding Behavior-Based Safety. Dr. Geller is alumni distinguished professor at Virginia Tech and director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the department of psychology and has been teaching for 50 years this year. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the association for psychological science and the world Academy of productivity and quality.

Krista’s mission is to inspire people to take time to actively care for the safety of themselves and others. Dr Krista has a master’s and doctorate degree in human development Virginia Tech. Krista has been a researcher at Virginia Tech center for applied behavior systems and taught at Radford University, Virginia Tech and King College.

Together, Scott and Krista founded the education and training organization, Actively Caring For People or AC4P. Come along for the ride as they discuss their areas of expertise and COVID-19

Transcript

Jill:

This is the Accidental Safety Pro brought to you by Vivid Learning Systems and the Health & Safety Institute. This is a special edition of the podcast recorded on May 15th, 2020. My name is Jill James HSIs, chief safety officer. Safety and health professionals, we're finding ourselves in a unique position during this pandemic. One safety professional said to me recently, tongue in cheek of course we're the cool kids know, which of course refers to the fact that our profession often viewed as a necessary evil is suddenly front and center. People are even picking up our vernacular. We don't have to explain what PPE means or what N95 respirators or what face shields are anymore. Lay people are talking about our hierarchy of controls and it all seems to have happened overnight. What we do everyday is suddenly part of daily life at work and home for nearly every human being on the globe.

Meanwhile, we safety and health professionals are looking at this pathogen like all other hazards. We study and figure out how to mitigate and educate around. Except this time this hazard is unique. The hazard that is the virus is new and you can bring it home and all employed persons can bring it from home to work. The death toll exceeds anything we've ever seen in our careers because of work, community and home exposures. And here's the catch, as we're trying to learn it and do what we know works regarding risk mitigation, we have dozens and hundreds of voices who are armchair quarterbacking our work and we're trying to inform them of our profession and teach them all at the same time. And we're forming partnerships with other professionals at work or in our public health systems that maybe we've never had before. And all the while we're doing this, we realized that much of those risk mitigation that we're doing relies heavily on human beings modifying and changing their behaviors.

How do we simultaneously educate those who may not understand our work and effectively change behavior? Education and changing behaviors? Who better to consult than the Geller's, Scott and Krista, the father daughter duo, who has been teaching and inspiring generations of safety and health professionals and they're both joining us today. If you've ever said the words behavior-based safety, Dr. Scott Geller said them first, literally. He wrote the book and it's called Understanding Behavior-Based Safety, yet that wasn't his only book. In fact, there are 75 books in chapters addressing the development and evaluation of behavior change interventions to improve quality of life and don't we need that now more than ever. Dr. Geller is alumni distinguished professor at Virginia Tech and director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems in the department of psychology and has been teaching for 50 years this year. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the association for psychological science and the world Academy of productivity and quality. And we also have Dr. Krista Geller with us today.

Krista's mission is to inspire people to take time to actively care for the safety of themselves and others. Dr Krista's master's and doctorate degrees from Virginia Tech are in human development. Krista has been a researcher at Virginia Tech center for applied behavior systems and taught at Radford University, Virginia Tech and King College. In 2012 Krista became the People-Based safety and human performance improvement, global manager for Bechtel Corporation, teaching employees to develop the competence and courage to actively care for the safety of themselves and their coworkers. Together, Scott and Krista founded the Education and Training Organization, Actively Caring For People or AC4P. Welcome back to the show, Krista and Scott.

Krista:

Thank you.

Scott:

Thank you. Great introduction.

Jill:

Well first off, tell our audience, how are you both and where are each of you joining us from today?

Krista:

Well, I was figuring my dad's probably is sitting in his office and I hope he's wearing a mask, whereas I am barricaded down in my basement. Been down here for a while now ever since the virus kind of took over. I'm out here in Ashburn, Virginia about four hours from where my father lives and it's been a while since the two of us have been in the same room. It's quite fun to be a guest on your show again, Jill, especially sitting a little ways from my dad. So thank you for the invite and letting us be here.

Jill:

No problem. Scott is Krista right? Are you at your office?

Krista:

I'm at my office. Nobody else is here. The campus is empty and it's been this way, as you know, for several weeks. And I've come to my office. I still come to my office and do my work here. And sometimes my students will come. Yes, I'm not wearing a mask now, but I do whenever I have students here we have got permission. Of course the place is locked, we have to get a key to open up the door and come in. But we have to teach, we're still teaching. I'm lecturing to introductory psychology students, 1000 of those students and it's online instruction and wow, it's taken more time than I ever thought it would.

Jill:

Yeah. Way different than 50 years ago when you started for sure. So today we wanted to talk about, what's at the core of what you do and that's actively caring for people and some tools we want to be able to share with safety profession today about things that we can do when it comes to the behaviors I talked about at the beginning. And I'm wondering when it comes to promoting an actively caring spirit what would you both say is the problem that's kind of prohibiting maybe that from happening right now with regard to fear?

Scott:

Well, the first thing I think about is how similar this situation is with the workplace. In the workplace, we had an attempt to control behavior. Top down control and we get resistance. And of course we're seeing the same thing on a global level. I mean we have the government folks and passing laws and regulations and people are resisting, because people do not like to feel controlled. The word behavior modification is a turnoff to most people. That's why I think what's missing? One word, empathy. Empathy and we can talk about the need to be more humanistic to try to see the situation from the other person's perspective.

Jill:

Yeah. Krista, how about you?

Krista:

Well, why I want to say, in the very beginning you remarked on how one of your friends said, finally in safety we're the cool kids. What's really interesting about that statement is, finally everyone's talking about PPE. You could say PPE to somebody that was outside of a safety market, maybe somebody that wasn't in the medical profession or wasn't in workplace safety and they wouldn't have known what PPE meant. And now isn't it funny how the world is almost completely educated on what it means when we say PPE? You go into a store and you've got your gloves and your mask and in some cases your safety glasses or a face shield to avoid coming in contact with the virus. What I find really interesting is, one of the motivating comments I would always say to my teams is, you want to take safety home with you.

When you go home you want to carry those safe practices that you did in the workplace and you want to do those same practices at home and sometimes it was hard to get that message to carry through. Maybe when they were driving at the job site they drove much better. But then when they got out on the road and they weren't under the umbrella of their job, maybe their driving techniques changed. It was hard to get people to carry safety home from the workplace to their couch. And isn't it interesting how in your face it is now that if we have been at work or we have been in an office where there is a possible outbreak of the virus and we go home now it's right there in our face.

The ripple effect is actually visible that we can see, okay, if I was in a contaminated area and I go home now I have the ability to affect my family and it's right there at your fingertips. Whereas in some other instances, texting and driving while you're driving home, you don't think about how that might affect your family. It's interesting how it's right in the forefront of our brains and watching how people deal with that kind of information and how they continue to protect their family is just, it's very interesting to me. It's kind of done a turnover a little bit with safety with our safety practices.

Scott:

But at the same...

Jill:

Yeah, go ahead Scott.

Scott:

At the same time, you have people not wearing the simple face mask. You go into a Kroger and some of us are wearing them, other people are not. And you know what? People are saying exactly what they said in the workplace. It's not going to happen to me. Look what's happening in a few States that opened up, people are going to the bars and they're interacting and the same issue that we had in the workplace, it's happening in our world right now. Where some people are playing the game, doing the right thing, but so many people are not.

Jill:

Yeah, right. If safety professionals can easily like in this to the person that said, I didn't need to put my fall protection on because it was a five minute job, it was a quick thing or that doesn't apply to me or nothing could ever happen to me before. And we're so reliant right now as a global community on people choosing behaviors that protect all of us together. And we really want people to be doing the right thing and to be proactive versus reactive.

Scott:

And the message we're hearing all the time now is we're all in this together. We need to teach interdependency. We tried it in the workplace. Now, as Krista said, it's in our homes. So we need to talk about with our family and about, we are in this together, which means it's not about independence, it's about interdependent. Easier said than done, but at least let's start there. And then what do you do if you see somebody not wearing a mask? Should you say something or someone is such too close, you're in line and they're not appreciating the six foot distance and they're not wearing, do we say something?

Jill:

Yeah, right. Krista, what do you have to say about trying to get people to do the right thing?

Krista:

You know what, I think a lot of people like dad, you just said, which is such a good point, it won't happen to me. So now it's like our whole world is a job site that I've worked for 20 years of my life. I feel like I'm on a job site now. Whether I'm going to Walmart or I'm going to Harris Teeter where I'm going now I'm looking at people that aren't wearing their PPE. And so now I feel like a safety manager of all these folks. And so now it's, so how do I come across as not being that safety cop? Because I'm not kidding, I guess for 20 years I've been in safety, but probably for about 12 to 15 years. Probably more around 12, I've worked job sites and I've been out there. And one of the goals when you're working a job site, as all of us safety professionals know, is you don't want to be labeled as that safety cop. You don't want to be seen as the person that's coming down on you.

How do you change your tone so that it's more of a suggestion rather than, Hey, I see you doing that, it's wrong. Let me show you something else. If you can change it into more of a suggestion and that's okay, that's safety. If we're seeing somebody use the wrong tool, that's if someone's not wearing their fall protection correctly. But what about these people in the grocery stores, who I don't think see the big picture. How their behavior is actually impacting others. If I go to a store and they finally have bleach because I have been waiting for them to have bleach, I just cannot get my hands on a puddle of bleach.

Jill:

For me it's isopropyl alcohol.

Krista:

Yeah and what kills me, it's the people that are buying more than, I don't know why you would need more than one bottle of bleach, but it's the people that are going in there and they're buying more than what they need. And what that's doing is that's then impacting those of us that might've needed that single bottle. And now you've taken it from me. Is that the actively caring for people approach and when that person buys up all the toilet paper or fills their cart or rolls two carts out of the store with all of it, are they taking in mind, Hey, I'm being independent rather than interdependent. I'm not sharing my resources with everybody. I'm hoarding them from myself. And what I don't think they realize is the more you stockpile for yourself, the more you put others at risk and if others are going to be at risk and we're all working on this same giant job site together, then you're also putting yourself at risk because there's going to be a ripple effect of your behavior in how other people are able to get the products they need.

Scott:

And what about the fact that the person who's not wearing the face mask is putting you at risk? In the workplace, if they're not wearing fall protection, that's putting them at risk. But now we have a situation where their at risk behavior is putting others at risk. And so now it seems more important that we say something and I think that's a major issue. How do we actively care for the safety of a person who simply not following the rules and putting you at risk for the disease?

Jill:

Yeah. And there seems to be so much frustration as well with people, both people who are trying to do the right thing and people that we would be urging to do the right thing. And I'm wondering if either of you would like to speak about what frustration does and what that can lead to as well.

Scott:

Well, in psychology, we've known for years that frustration leads to aggression. And it does, and it could be passive aggression. It doesn't have to be physical, but it could be passive. And it could be that some of the passive aggression is not following those basic rules. But this is the utmost of frustration when you add uncertainty to it. Frustration means I'm not reaching my goals as [wanted 00:16:34]. But add to that the uncertainty of what I need to do to reach my goals. And yeah, we're in a very awkward situation now and I think actively caring is more important than ever before. But how do we do that.

Krista:

Then when you get that frustration, now you're creating distress.

Scott:

Oh, yeah.

Krista:

Now you're talking about stress versus distress and then you're looking at your circle of control. And what's really funny to me is if I walked into a store and I was the only one not wearing my face mask, I would be embarrassed. And that's what I find funny because you walk out on a job site and most of the time, if you see someone not wearing their hard hat, they've most likely just forgotten it. They're not trying to buck the system. But then they get their hardhat hat back and, Oh yeah, I forgot my hard hat. It's just really interesting to me that those folks that are bucking the system and not wearing their face masks, they're almost deliberately doing it because you walk into a store today and the percentage of people that you see wearing a face mass is very low. But they're there. That's for those of us that are following the rules. Now you're talking about distress in my circle of control. And that's going to cause even more frustration and anger on my part. If I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do, but you're not doing what you're supposed to do.

Scott:

And let's talk about why we wear a face mask. Someone could say, and it's probably true, the probability of me getting the disease because I didn't wear a face mask or spreading the disease is very, very low. Why do we do it? Well, we do it to set an example for others because if everybody wears a face mask, we're going to reduce the disease. The point is we wear our face mask to set the right example for other people as I see it. So an actively caring perspective means you're not only doing it for yourself, but you're doing it to set the example for others.

Jill:

Yeah. And staying six feet apart from one another, so we're not risking the circle of control, like you said, Krista, for sure. Yeah. And so when we're looking at changing behaviors or modifying behaviors or encouraging a particular behavior Scott, I know you have said before that behavior-based safety can fail when it lacks a certain something. Do you want to talk about that?

Scott:

Well, you have to have communication. You know what they did? They went the efficient route. You create a checklist and you write down what's safe and what's not safe, pretty easy. And then you hand it over to a data file or they plug in that data we got percent safe, but they missed the ingredient is communication. And by the way, we need communication here with this thing. Like I've said, what do you tell the person? And how do you tell a person when they're doing the wrong thing? That takes humanism by the way, that takes a non-directive approach. When it comes to acknowledging safe behavior, thanking people, we have to do more of that, sure. We take that for granted. We have to thank people, we're hearing people thanking the frontline workers these days. We need more of that. But what happens when you see somebody too close or not wearing a face mask? How do you give him corrective feedback?

Jill:

Yeah, let's talk about that. As our safety professionals are listening and they're thinking, I've done some of this, I've done some giving feedback before in the workplace and now we're all trying to learn how to do it in our community, in public lives, for those of us who are going anywhere right now. But maybe what would be some prescriptive ideas that you could each think of that we could share with our audience that they might use for giving feedback? What might they say or how might they approach it?

Krista:

Well, I think one thing I want to bring up is, you can almost do it by setting the right example. So, just as an example, I was in the store I was waiting in line. They have the tape on the floors to stand the appropriate distance away from the person. And I could tell the person in front of me would be uncomfortable if I started putting my groceries on the conveyor belt as they were wrapping up. I could tell they were giving me that body language. Point number one, I was aware of the person around me and I think that's one tip is be aware of the people around you. People will give off a perfect example or perfect feeling for how they're feeling if you're getting too close. And this person was giving me the eye as if, you better not start putting your groceries up.

So I did, I waited. I waited until he was completely done and pushing his cart away. And then I started loading my groceries because the last thing I wanted to do was create more anxious and anxiety for him. And I noticed as my groceries are winding up. The guy behind me just started immediately putting his on the belt and that would have been a perfect coaching moment for me to educate that person behind me. Because if I were to guess, I would say that that person was just completely unaware of their behavior. It's like texting when you're walking or texting when you're driving, just unaware of how they're holding up other people or how their behavior is affecting others. I think that's one of our biggest problems as a society is we don't often stop, look around and say, how is what I'm doing right now affecting the people around me?

And so that would have been a perfect coaching moment. I didn't take the moment. I spent more time analyzing it. Thanks for those genes, father. I spent more time analyzing what the situation was like. But had I educated him, I bet you he would have carried that forward but I would have had to do it right. And my tips for people out there is, my point would have been kindly say, Hey sir, just with everything going on, I'm just a little uncomfortable with the six foot thing. Would you mind if I wrapped up my purchasing before you started loading your groceries and I'm willing to bet if I said that in the voice that I had and I was calm and apologetic.

And I think one way you can get away from something and get away from causing a negative reaction is if you take it on the chin, if you say, Hey, look, I'm really sorry but this is making me just a little bit uncomfortable. I have children at home, I live with an older parent, whatever excuse you want to put out there to kind of take the pressure off of them and say, would you mind if I finished what I was doing before you started coming in and putting your groceries down.

And I think that by alleviating them from being the bad guy, it's the same thing in safety. When you see somebody not wearing their safety glasses, the last thing you want to do is walk up and shake your finger at them. So you want to find a creative way that takes them off of a negative pedestal and puts them up on a positive pedestal. And there's always some sort of communication style to do that. And the best one that I found for myself is just to take the blame for myself, apologize and say, Hey, can I talk to you about something?

Scott:

And Kristen like, you asked a question, would you mind, you're not telling them what to do, you're saying, is it okay? Because I feel uncomfortable. Brilliant, I feel uncomfortable this close because, yes, that is humanism. That's a humanistic approach. And that's the word empathy that I said earlier that you want to have empathy for them, but you want they to have empathy for you. And really, if we could just step back and think of others in terms of, the golden rule is really the platinum rule is treat others the way they want to be treated. So we have to think about what would they want?

Jill:

Yeah. Krista, you talked about setting examples by demonstrating which all safety professionals know and this is really good that we're setting an example. And then like you both said using those powerful words, would you mind or I feel uncomfortable. Those are great. And then what about the piece of showing gratitude? I think Scott, you said something about showing gratitude. Where does kind of that fit into a cadence with when you're asking someone to do something?

Scott:

Well, first we have to say that the researchers of positive psychology, gratitude turns out to be one of the most powerful things which we don't do enough. We talk about rewarding people but gratitude is thanking them. So let's say that that person did step back when Krista talked with him, that he said, I'm sorry I didn't under, I didn't realize it. Wow, then it's Krista's turned to say thank you, I appreciate that. We don't do enough of that and maybe we're learning, however, because we're showing gratitude for the frontline workers in the hospitals, the truck drivers bringing us our products. We're seeing it now, so maybe that's going to be one of the changes, we'll see a greater appreciation for what others do to keep this system thinking. As Krista mentioned, keeping the system in tack, showing gratitude. By the way, it's powerful on both sides. The person receiving gratitude of course feels better, but also giving gratitude makes you feel good.

Jill:

Yeah. Krista, one of the things that you said a moment ago when you were giving your example of being in the grocery store is you didn't take the opportunity to do that coaching at the time. And I think that's something any of us who've been working in the safety field for long enough, we've either experienced it A, ourselves or seen it in others where people haven't had the courage to speak up. And I'm not saying that you weren't courageous that day, but there's something that happens within human behavior, which is interesting. And I'm going to branch out here and use a political example because I think everyone listening has probably seen this. But what struck me from a safety perspective is the day that our vice president went to the Mayo Clinic and everyone around him was wearing a mask as was required in that workplace. Just like if you were asked to wear safety glasses and he wasn't.

And it was a body of leaders. There wasn't a person among them that wasn't a leader that day. And leaders are strong people, but no one had the courage. And so not unlike your example in the grocery store, Krista not unlike the example that I've just put out there with one of the leaders of our country. But we in safety have all seen that and experienced that. Whether we're investigating accidents and we hear someone say, Oh, I knew in my gut that was wrong, but I didn't want to say anything to them. We've heard these same things in seeing these same things throughout our entire careers. How can we help people find that courage and teach that courage to others or give people permission to have courage?

Krista:

Yeah, that's such a good question too because, I questioned myself afterwards because I thought, wow, I didn't have the courage to do it and I would have changed. I would have changed probably one person's perspective that probably would have made him more aware of the situation from that point forward. I had a brilliant opportunity in front of me to educate and teach somebody, Hey, look at your surroundings. Be mindful of where you are and what you're doing. And it's funny because the guy in front of me, the way he kept watching me really caused me to be mindful of my behavior. And I've actually learned from that very moment. I've kept it in my brain. I was at the store the other day and I wanted to get something, but a woman was standing right there next to it and I thought, well, I'll wait until she walks away before I lean in and grab it.

And I thought back to that situation and it's kind of like you said, dad with the platinum rule is I said to myself, I don't know how she wants me to treat her right now, but I'm going to treat her as if she doesn't want me to come near her. I'm going to treat her with the same respect of that six foot rule as I'm treating everybody. And when you say how some people don't chime in and say something, I really feel like sometimes we think, well somebody else will do it. Somebody else will be in this situation. They'll see it and they'll take care of it. Because as a safety professional, those of us that have worked the job and we've done a behavioral observational program and we've had to kit that courage and go up and tell somebody, listen, I got a safer way you can be doing that behavior. It takes, I mean a book of courage. You really have to be tough and you have to have such.

I've worked with two kinds. I've worked with that safety professional, that's just one of the worst coaches out there. And then I've worked with that one that could just, sell an igloo. I mean he's absolutely amazing and has that talent to just really communicate. And I believe some people who don't step forward, I also believe they know they don't have the right coaching techniques to actually provide that person the corrective feedback. Because I wonder when they did not see him wearing the mask or vice president, do they say to themselves somebody else is going to do it? Was it because they were lacking courage or was it because they really didn't feel like they had the ability to give him the message the way he needed to receive it?

Scott:

Yeah. Now you're talking about bystander apathy. The more people observing, the less will anyone person step in. Because we have what's called diffusion of responsibility. As Krista just said, somebody else will do it. And the other thing that Krista said that I find very important is, she didn't say it, but I'm saying it, self-talk. She talked to herself after that one event. She walked off saying, I should have said something. So here's what people need to do. They need to look for these situations. And when they didn't have the courage, they didn't know what they should have done is reflect on that. Talk about it because we can all do better. But you got the word courage, but there's another word that I think is just as important, it's the word humility. Having the humility or even perceive that somebody has the humility to accept your feedback.

And then there's another word too, integrity. After you get that feedback, will I change my behavior? Do I have the integrity? Now, by the way, our vice president I'm told is now wearing a face mask. He got feedback and he had the integrity to say, that's right. But I'm not sure that anybody has ever told him that the reason to do that is to set an example. I don't think that. Quite frankly, I think our president needs that message. It's not about keeping you safe or not spreading your germs. It's about setting the example. So again, as I said earlier, if we all did it, we're going to beat this thing.

Jill:

Well, setting the example, don't we all know that as safety professionals. We know as safety professionals we are checking, double checking, triple checking ourselves before we go into any situation to go, do we have the right personal protective equipment? Have I paid attention to my surroundings before I step onto this area, into that work area? Have I looked at where I should be standing? Shouldn't be standing? What's swinging over my head? You know, our brains are analyzing all the systems because we know that we have to set the example, as leaders we have to set the example.

Scott:

And the other people...

Krista:

You never know who's watching. I think that's the big one. Wen you're on a safety project and you're on a job site, you're being watched whether you know it or not, and same in the grocery stores. I would be embarrassed to load my cart with more items than I need because I want to set the example to other folks, Hey, this is all I need right now. Grocery store is not going anywhere. Everything's getting stockpiled. I'll tell you something interesting though. It took the grocery stores around my area a while for them to hang the sign and start limiting people and I kind of wish they had jumped on the ball a little bit sooner, when they started seeing it fly off the shelves, put those restrictions. Because ever since they've put those restrictions, things have improved.

But I want to ask the question and this is a courage question, if I was working the register and somebody were to come up with two packs of toilet paper, the question you have then is the person behind the register, are they going to have the courage to say I'm sorry Madam, I'm sorry sir, you're only able to buy one of those right now. So you wonder, we can hang those signs and limit you to one just like we do on the safety site. We say, Hey safety glasses, Hey, hard hat. Hey, fall protection. We put those activators all over the place so we have the activators in the grocery store. Then you have the behavior, is the person grabbing one pack of toilet paper or two and then when they get to pay, are they going to have the person behind the desk actually apply the consequence or are they going to actually hold them accountable for the behavior and say, Hey, you know what, you have two packs of toilet paper. You're only restricted to one.

And I'm willing to bet not very many of them are going to do that. Because I'm willing to bet. I'm sure there are some and hats off to those brave men and women who are doing that. Because if you think about it, they're working a job that was never in the job description. I mean, think about it. Now they have to interface with the customer and now they have to say, Hey, I'm sorry, you can't purchase that. You have more than what you're allowed. And so that's going above and beyond for some of the people working in these roles. And you just wonder, are they able to pass along that consequence for that behavior?

Jill:

Yeah. Right. And I'm thinking about, you hit on something. They never thought this was going to be part of the job and all over sudden it is. Just like all of us living our lives right now, whether we're at work or whether we're in our communities, we're having to muster up courage. And when you're mustering up courage to do something uncomfortable, something happens to our bodies physically when we're trying to do that too. I think about the time where I have to muster the most courage to ask people to do something differently is at a gas pump. The people who don't turn off their engines when they fueling and there's all the activators, all the signs around you that say turn off the vehicle. And we know that explosions happen. One happened in my neighborhood last year where a gas pump blew up at the place I normally go to fuel. For years, I don't fuel if someone's vehicle is running. Sometimes I'm like, I don't have the courage today I'm driving into a different gas station. And some days I pull up, I get out of my vehicle, I look at the person whose vehicle is running and I say, would you mind turning off your vehicle?

Scott:

Have you done that?

Jill:

Oh you many, many times. Many times and no one has ever yelled at me. I'll get kind of those snorts like.

Scott:

They do it?

Jill:

But they do it. But what happens in my body every is like I'm sort of shaking and I've been a badge carrying safety professional that worked for OSHA who had lots of hard conversations. But that one always makes me get just a little bit wiggly. And so I'm guessing there's a lot of people right now who are trying to master courage who are having that physical symptom. Can you guys talk about that too? And kind of what people are feeling and experiencing and what they should do with that?

Scott:

But here's the point I want to make. You're a safety professional, Krista is a safety professional. So when you don't do the right thing, you've experienced what many people heard the word cognitive dissonance, inconsistent. You didn't do this, you didn't speak up. So I was inconsistent. Now, other people don't label themselves as safety professional. They're just citizens in the community doing their job. I think the challenge is to give everybody the label, not safety professional, but everybody has a label of do you care? You care about not only your safety but others. It's kind of, it's a social label. If I have a label, and by the way, one way to give people a label is recognizing them, thanking them for the good deed they did. Wow, you kept that distance. Thank you. You are really thinking about the health of everybody.

And now then that person takes that in, that's their self talk and now they have the label just like you guys have the label safety professional. Now I have the label. I was given the label that I care about people's health and safety with regard to COVID-19 so all of a sudden, wow, I have to now live up to that label. The thing up to that label means I have to do the right thing or I'll experience cognitive dissonance. That consistency between my label and my behavior.

Krista:

But I want to I want to kind of hit on Jill's point here for a second with these so called caring individuals, having to enforce the law. Jill getting the heebies jeebies when you have to tell somebody to turn off their car engine. And it's really interesting too, because I'm totally with you. If that person looks unapproachable, I'm going to go to a different gas tank. But what we're dealing with and this is where I've had a lot of empathy is now we're dealing with basic cashiers working at their store that I believe they care. I believe they care about the health, but they've got some threatening looking individual rolling up with two packs of toilet paper. How do they get the courage?

I could see myself saying, you know what, I'll let this one go but I'll get the next one. I could see myself coming up with those excuses because we've all been cussed out on the job site. I mean up and down. And I remember working with the People-Based Safety team, which sometimes was called people be snitching team. That was a label we had to adjust. And I talked to this young lady and she said, well, I got cussed out again today. And she sat down and she just looked like the wind was kicked out of her. And I said, what makes you continue going back? And she said, because I care, and I will never forget that because she took the beatings but what I really want to point to is what Jill said earlier is that we are safety professionals. We're used to taking the beatings. We've been there.

And you know what's funny Jill, with the gas, you wonder, do other people recognize, Hey, you're not doing, your cars on, do other people actually recognize that the car is, do they even know that that's at risk? But because we're safety professionals, we're a little bit more on top of the risks that are out there so we know. And so we have the courage to do it. But I look at these cash registers and these people working in the store, they have been handed this duty, to actively care for people, you know, to actively hold a consequence. And some of these people are just right in their 20s and I don't know if I would have had the courage at 20 years old to hold somebody accountable for the rule or the regulation that we're passing in that store.

I believe they care, but I don't think that some of these people have been equipped with the courage and to do the right decision. Look at me, I was in Walmart and whether it was courage or whatever it was, something stopped me from asking the gentleman to wait till I had left the scene. And I'm a safety professional so that stopped me. I can only imagine the the butterflies you have in your stomach when you know you're supposed to hold somebody accountable but you're not sure of how to do it.

Scott:

But that's the key, Krista, how to do it. In fact, that's the problem with behavior based safety. We tell people you're supposed to give feedback after you do your observations, but I've never been taught how to give feedback. And as I just said, when someone makes a mistake, when they aren't doing the wrong thing, as we talked earlier, how do you tell them, that's not easy.

Jill:

Yeah. Let's talk more about that. What other tools would you suggest to our listeners that they could use? We've talked about a few already. Entering with humility of course, and like you said, Krista taking it on the chin yourself and using those sentences, would you mind or I feel uncomfortable and being aware of people around you. What other things might you share with our audience that they could use?

Scott:

Ask more questions, put it in terms of questions. We said this earlier too, but as Krista said, that makes me feel uncomfortable. But ask them, is there a safer way to do that or, it still takes courage to do that, but it's being humanistic. It's kind of looking at their situation and kind of asking them that's the only way we're going to get ownership is if you asked them and they say, Oh yes, I should have done this. I should have done this. I should have worn the mask. When they say it, then you're going to more likely get that behavior from them. But we're at a click it or ticket society right now. We're in this top down control with people telling us what to do and we're getting a lot of reactants. We're getting a lot of counter control. And that's also a sad state of affairs. But that's the problem. People do not like to be told what to do.

Jill:

Yeah. krista, thoughts?

Krista:

Well, I think one of the things too, and dad you've brought it up and we've mentioned it a couple of times, is I think it's teaching empathy is I think it's putting yourselves in the shoes of that other person and figuring out, how can you best approach them. And in some situations with some of my safety folks, I had to refer to the rules and regulations. If they were really in a tight spot and they were uncomfortable taking it on the chin, sometimes you can always blame the boss and say, well, you know what, this is the rule and regulation. I'll go back to that cashier example. Your example could be, Hey, I'm really sorry this is the rule and regulation of the store right now. We really can only allow you to buy one.

So again, you're approaching them with an empathic, kind, apologetic way, but then you're blaming it on someone else. And sometimes that's how you have to do it. And some of the People-Based Safety groups that I had, sometimes again you don't have the strongest coaches and so they're not that strong and it's easier for them to have a higher power to kind of throw the ball at. That's what I asked them to do. And sometimes that's the easiest way. I mean sometimes it's easier to say I shouldn't speed because the police officer will catch me because sometimes it's hard for people to say I shouldn't speed because I'm putting myself and others at risk. Sometimes we're so blinded by our own lives that we don't realize, again, like we said at the beginning, how our behavior affects others around us.

Sometimes stopping somebody from speeding as well, there's a cop ahead rather than you could kill somebody because what happens there is, Oh it won't ever happen to me, but almost everybody's received a police ticket or a speeding ticket or been involved or saw one. So it's easier to relate to that experience and say, well you might get a ticket and then get them thinking about the consequence part of it. And that's smaller consequence rather than, well you could kill somebody because not a lot of us have that experience to relate to. Sometimes you've got, again dad, like you said, look at the platinum rule, find out what you can relate to with that individual. And I think it speaks to our experts out there, Charlie Warcraft and Tony Crow, the way they tell their stories and the way they empathically affect the audience and they pull you in and they draw you into, this is what happened to me, this is what I did and these are the rules I broke.

When I say take safety home with you, that's Tony Crow's story. He wore safety glasses for 25 years, but he didn't wear them when he went home. And that's one of our key carries. And one of the things that will strike me is, how will surviving this virus, what we will go through. How will this affect workplace safety? Will we be more mindful of our safety at hand because we've been in this crisis and how long will it last? Because then dad, it goes back to one of my favorite psychology terms is extinction. How long will we feel the impact of this before it's extinct? And we go back to our regular everyday behaviors. We do know it'll stick around for a while. I do think we'll feel that feeling for a while, but we always end up reverting back to our regular behavior unless we had dad's favorite word, behavior modification.

Scott:

Well, let me just respond. First Krista, you're talking about emotion. We have to get emotional about this. And the second thing, Krista, you that sometimes you have to refer to the cop. Well, let's get back to the lady selling the cashier. If she had that sign the activator right out her cash register so the customer could see it then she can just point to the sign, it's not me, it's a rule. And some of these stores need to start to say it's our rule and make it very visible. So then the people who were selling the product, they can say it's not my fault, but that's the rule we have to follow. So make those activators out there and let those cashiers refer to them. That relates to what Krista said about sometimes you have to say, that's the rule.

But another word I think we really need to spread around and we said it before, it's humility. Continuous improvement requires that we all realize that we don't have all the answers, that there's always room for improvement. Every one of us, I mean even at my age, almost 80 years old, I realized that I have a lot of improvement I can do and we have to have the humility to accept feedback. The humility, how about this, ask for feedback. Another approach you could say is, am I okay? Is this distance okay for you? Are we comfortable? The point is we just need to open up a little more and realize we're not in this alone, we're in this together.

Jill:

Yeah. I love what you were saying about blaming the boss and using the activators. It's what we teach our kids. When we're raising, and Scott I'm wondering if you did this with Krista when she was little, if you need to get out of some kind of situation card, blame your parent. I know my mom told me that she's like, if you ever need to get out of situation, you just blame me. Blame me every single time, my mom won't let me do that. My mom's said this, my mom's said that. It's a rule around here. And I know I've told my son the same thing as a teenager.

Krista:

Oh, yes and all the research experiments we had, any time he would say if you get in trouble or anything happens, just blame me, it's fine. And that cigarette study that you had interviewed us on last time. That was the first thing I yelled out was it's my dad's fault. So he did teach me that, to blame him. And I'll tell you what though that is, blaming the boss is one sure fire way to kind of get yourself off the hook but still share that message and get the point across. And it's like you said dad, if they have the activator, I don't think people use activators enough. I think we assume for instance, before I enter any store, I am as fast as I can, grazing any in every sign that's on the door, what's required in here, what do they want. And it's really shocking to me that there's no signs that are really stating what they want my behavior to be.

And I think if people were to use activators more, because I think what they need to recognize is we're not always coming into the store as educated public. We don't always know what your rules and regulations are. You're having a closed store conversation, share it with the rest of us. And I think that activators are, hang the sign, let me know what's going on. They do have tape on the floor, which bravo to them. I think that's wonderful. They're not leaving it up to us to decide what six feet looks like. But I do wish that more stores would take that under consideration. I remember working on the job sites, the guys would go use the bathroom or they would go eat lunch and sure enough, so many of them would forget their gloves.

And so they'd be back on the job site doing the work and they would not have their gloves. And a lot of times they're halfway through the job and they don't even realize they have them. And so it would take me showing up. And as soon as I show up, I'm the activator right there. Oh, what am I missing? And they look down and they realize they don't have their gloves. What my point was to everybody was, hang signs, put them in the porta potty, put them in the bathrooms. Did you forget your gloves? Put them in the lunchroom in. I don't think we need to be embarrassed if it takes a sign to remind us.

I use Stickies, sticky notes. I use things on my phone, I send myself emails. We all know that's what human performance is, is figuring out what we need to know in order to avoid an error. And I know myself and I know I'm going to forget, I know dad's going to forget my goodness. So what am I going to do in order to spur on his memory, my memory. And so I don't think people should be ashamed of, Oh, well I have to hang all these signs. And sometimes the employees would say to me, Oh, we don't need to hang the signs, that makes me feel like they think I'm stupid. No, that's not what it is. We're hanging a sign as a reminder.

It's just like a police officer on the side of the road. The police officer is there to just remind you, Hey, you're driving on the road. Do you remember, are you mindful of the fact that you're driving? Are you often La La land? Do you recognize that you're on the road right now? Great. That's what you should see them there for. Not as someone who's going to write you a ticket, but as somebody who's sitting on the side of the road to remind you ops, could you be going a little too fast? Have you taken your car for inspection? I think that those activators are our first real conversation piece into getting that behavior modification across.

Jill:

Yeah. And for our safety professionals who are listening, we're using a lot of examples in community life, which is excellent. I think this also translates into workplaces, right? So everyone in their workplaces right now are trying to figure out, okay, we've got to do training with our employees. We have to inform them. We're teaching them about six feet, we're teaching them about masking or teaching them about eye protection, okay, now are we done or to really think through job tasks. Just like job hazard analysis, job safety analysis that we've all done forever when it comes to this.

We're really having to re-engineer the way we're doing work and really thinking about what are those activities that employees are engaged in, where there used to being shoulder to shoulder with one another or we have to do this lift or we have to do this. And they think, well I just, the muscle memory is you go back to what you knew. And it's on us as setting the example and doing the work to show them different ways to do things, to minimize their exposure in a way we didn't think we were going to have to engineer around. And we're going to have to keep doing it and doing it and doing it.

Scott:

And realize that they might not know. We all know, you're the safety experts, but they might be, the word we use is, unconsciously incompetent. And so they need to be educated. Just like we talked earlier, they don't know how to give corrective feedback the right way or they've told somebody that they're making a mistake and they've got a nasty response. So they've been punished for giving corrective feedback. And so again, I think one missing link in many organizations, whether we're talking about COVID-19 or whether we're talking about safety in the workplace, is how do you communicate to give supportive feedback and corrective feedback?

Jill:

Scott, you've used the word coach before as an acronym. Would that be something that would apply here?

Scott:

Oh, I love it.

Jill:

Can you walk us through that?

Scott:

Yes, thank you. I think we all should teach people what the letters of coach mean. The first letter is a C and that stands for care, knows that I care and you'll care what I know. I care so much. I'm willing to O, observe you. Observe and see what you're doing right and where there's room for improvement. I didn't say what you're doing wrong, there's always room for improvement. And while I'm observing you, the next letter of coach is an A, for analyze. I'm looking at the environment, I'm looking at the situation there might be facilitating at risk behavior or maybe something is there that needs to be promoting safe behavior but it's analyzing because behavior doesn't happen in a vacuum. So there were situations factors out there influencing that behavior.

And then the big word, the other C word, the one that we miss so often, we've been talking about it here today, communicate. Communicate what did you see? Start positive. But there's room for improvement and ask questions when it's about corrective feedback. And if you do all that well the last letter of coach is help. Don't you love it? I mean those letters, that's what we all should become coaches of others. We should feel comfortable, have the courage to coach and we all should have the humility to accept coaching and then have the integrity to adjust our behavior when we know we could have done better.

Krista:

And dad, we know what I love about this is exactly what you said a minute ago, is the help, ask, am I making you uncomfortable? Am I standing too close? Would it be okay if I started putting my groceries on the conveyor belt? Ask people, take the time to say, and I think like you said it earlier, I don't think we talk enough. We've got our goggles on and we're coming into the store, we're doing what we need to do and we're leaving. And we're not taking the time to say, Hey, am I making you uncomfortable, is this okay. And so I find that that's something I, and maybe I learned it from you, maybe I learned it from the research, but I find myself always evaluating the environment around me, the people around me and how I might be affecting them.

And you can tell immediately if you're making somebody feel uncomfortable. And I think that I am very aware of that and what kind of message I'm sending. And so I think that if people were to start to do that and don't just assume here comes your PCC, the word you taught me a long time ago, premature cognitive commitment and this is Jill, how I've won many arguments with him. He should never have taught me premature cognitive commitment because now I'm a genius with it. And what it basically is, is you're making a decision prematurely. You're going to decide prematurely before you've collected all the necessary data on that decision. And you're making it cognitive because you're making it your brain and you're committing to it.

I'm going to walk into a store and I might immediately create a negative thought about somebody because she's letting her child run around the store. I might immediately create a PCC, why can't she control her child? And that's where we have to be careful is that we are assuming. If I'm standing somewhere and somebody's giving me an evil look or some sort of look, I should never assume that my behavior is bothering her. I'm going to throw another celebrity out there, Judge Judy, she teaches us don't assume what someone is thinking, just their behavior. And it comes down to you got to be careful that you don't label a behavior. If I'm crossing my arms, I'm crossing my arms. That's the behavior. Don't assume I'm crossing my arms because I'm bored. Don't assume I'm crossing my arms for any other reason. I'm crossing my arms.

And so if I see a lady that's going to give me a nasty look or something, don't assume she's giving me the nasty look. Maybe she's looking past me. Take the time and ask, find a comfortable way to say, are you okay? Am I making you uncomfortable? And that kind of thing. And that's why I love the coach acronym because it puts it out there. First off, I'm asking you because I want to show you that I care. If I make you uncomfortable, I would like to change my behavior. And I think we all jump into PCCs, we all immediately go somewhere and make a decision based on the data around us and rather than spending time collecting it and you'd never know what's going on in somebody's mind. And I think if we were to take the time to communicate more and ask those necessary questions, we would get the answers we're looking for.

Scott:

Let me throw out one point, one more humanistic point. It connects to what Krista just said. Intention, what are your intentions? Humanists, they don't go for the behavior. They want to know what the intentions were. So you're crossing your arms. What are your intentions? It's just a point to say that, and we've been talking about behaviorism but we're also talking about the need to be humanistic words like empathy and intention.

Jill:

Yeah, beautiful.

Scott:

In fact, actively caring is humanistic behaviorism because active is behavior. Caring is humanism. That's why we claim that the actively caring for people movement is humanistic behaviorism.

Jill:

That's right. As we're wrapping up our time today, I feel if you can hear in the background, someone is mowing next to my window right now and gosh, is this the time where I use my courage and ask this person to not mow. I feel that maybe mowing would be better later today. No, I won't be doing that. But thank you for teaching me. And thank you for teaching our audience as well today. I know that the two of you have a new book. Do you want to share with our audience what your book is about?

Scott:

Oh, I would love to do that. We just sent it to the printers yesterday.

Jill:

Oh wow.

Scott:

Yeah, and the title is, In The Human Dynamics of Achieving an Injury-Free Workplace safety directives from psychological science. It has 10 chapters. Each chapter is an objective, which is an outcome. And with each outcome are directives. You know why we wrote this, we wrote it so others could teach the psychology of safety. I mean we have seen so many people teaching a very narrow perspective with regard to human dynamics and I'm not blaming them, we're not blaming them, they just haven't been educated. Now we want to educate you with a workbook that you can use to teach others and that's again, passing it on. That's again, teaching others how they can help others be safe. And the book will be available at the website. GallierAC4P.com

Krista:

I think one more thing to add with that dad is, each objective almost could be used as a toolbox talk or as some sort of kickoff for your safety meetings. I don't know if you guys have ever been in the safety meeting where the presenter is actually sitting down or they're scrolling through their phone and you want to say to them, no wonder your audience is looking at the lunch they brought today or they're not paying attention to you. For me the safety meeting, that morning safety meeting or that evening safety meeting, whatever the shift starts, that is your moment. That is your time to have the most effective conversations with your team, to impact them so that they hold that message, the whole eight, 10 hours they're working. Don't do it while sitting down, don't do it while scrubbing through your phone.

Pull one of these objectives out, throw it on the screen, make it exciting. Pull the audience in and ask them questions. Get them involved. Show them how the objective that's in that chapter or that piece, how that relates to the work they're doing today. Because I think what we get wrapped up in is, okay guys, safety meeting, call out the hazardous you're going to run into today. Oh, come on. No, let's talk about redundancy. I'm going to tell you the same stuff I do every day. Well, let's get out of that mindset and let's look at how, what a certain objective could affect the work we're doing today. And that's how I see it. I'm always thinking about how it affects our guys on the ground. Because I'm boots on the ground and I try to figure out how can we have the most lasting change? That's what I love about this book.

You can tear a page out of it each day and have something new. Because I think that's the other thing with our safety professionals, is sometimes we struggle for not a natural presenter or a natural speaker. How do we gravitate to this audience? How do we pull them into what we're saying? And the topics in this book are so unique and so gravitating themselves that you could be, Mr. Magoo up there and still have the attention of the audience because the points that you're sharing are so significant.

Jill:

Including some of the things we're talking about today, I have a feeling.

Scott:

Absolutely.

Krista:

Yes.

Jill:

That's wonderful. Krista, say the title again.

Krista:

Oh gosh. Dad's going to [crosstalk 01:08:01].

Jill:

Okay, Scott. You do it.

Scott:

The Human Dynamics of Achieving an Injury-Free Workplace.

Jill:

Very good. Went to the printers yesterday.

Scott:

Yes.

Krista:

Yes.

Jill:

That's fantastic. We'll be sure to include the title in the show notes as well as a link to GellerAC4P.com.

Krista:

Yep. That's all it is, GellerAC4p.com. And the other part that dad didn't mention is the cartoons in it I think are so fun. When I think that we need to realize that laughter is always a great source of education, of safety. You got to laugh at yourself and some of these cartoons really bring upon humor. If you have those safety meetings and you need to kind of, you're chugging along, a cartoon in this book will also kind of jumpstart it.

Jill:

Whether you're doing that through a zoom meeting or through a teleconference or someday when we can be back with one another again. And humor makes you smile and smile is certainly a nice way to open yourself up and let people know that you care about them as well. Whether you're wearing a mask or not. Our eyes still glow up when we smile.

Krista:

Absolutely.

Jill:

Thank you both so much for sharing your time and your expertise and coming back on the show again. We were together last in San Diego in real life with film and today we're meeting across the miles across the country and I just so appreciate both of you. Thank you so much.

Scott:

Thank you, Jill.

Jill:

Thank you, yes.

Scott:

We look forward to the next time.

Jill:

Yeah. And thank you all for spending your time listening today. And more importantly, thank you for your contribution, making sure your workers, including your temporary workers, make it home safe every day. If you'd like to join the conversation about this episode or any of our previous episodes, you can follow our page and join the Accidental Safety Pro community group on Facebook. If you're not subscribed yet and want to hear past or future episodes, you can subscribe in iTunes, the Apple podcast app or any other podcast player you'd like. You can also find all of our episodes at vividlearningsystems.com/podcast. We'd love it if you could leave a rating and review us on iTunes. It really helps us connect the show with more and more safety professionals like all of us. If you have a suggestion for a guest, including if it's you, please contact me at social, at vividlearningsystems.com. Special thanks to Will Moss, our podcast producer. Until next time, thanks for listening.