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Want to build a healthy culture?

Too often, we confuse kindness with niceness.

Kindness rocks, both at work and in one’s personal life. An essential part of kindness is helping people grow and become their best selves, and to help create an environment where everyone feels safe and able to contribute without fear of humiliation or retribution.

But when we confuse being nice with being kind, it can be toxic.

When team members and leaders hold back on giving essential tough feedback - because they are trying to be nice- they are robbing that person of an opportunity to grow and learn.

When we allow others to be hurtful to another person by othering them, even if it's subconsciously - because we are trying to be nice- we destroy psychological safety in our organization.

When we hold back on our ideas that may improve a process or product, we hinder our organization’s success.

Psychological safety lies at the foundation of building a healthy feedback loop in your organization; without a high level of psychological safety, people resort to either being nice or being quiet, says Dr. Timothy Clark, author of The Four Stages of Psychological Safety.

But when we confuse being nice with being kind, it can be toxic.


"What’s touted as niceness is often nothing more than the veneer of civility, a cute nod to psychological safety, a hologram that falsely signals inclusion, collaboration, and high performance." In his article for HBR, Dr. Clark breaks down why a "nice" culture can often overlay toxicity. Read: Why critical conversations matter When we hold back on giving tough feedback because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, we deny that person an opportunity to grow. But we also unintentionally inflict lasting harm on the rest of the team and organization as well. Need help in delivering critical convos? Download our ebook here.


Dr. Timothy Clark discusses the four stages of psychological safety Psychological safety is a necessary ingredient for a healthy culture; but it’s important to understand that it’s not a binary thing. Many workplaces often lie on the spectrum and it can immobilize them, says Dr. Timothy Clark in our recent episode of The Open Honest and Direct podcast.

Do you occasionally suffer from Imposter Syndrome? Save your spot for our upcoming Community Workshop with Coach Shiri here.


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