People in the safety and security business sometimes forget to laugh.
We become so intense about our work and the serious nature of keeping others safe we forget that we are only human. Sometimes this can be a real hindrance to conducting honest debriefings after a drill or actual incident. Sadly, our serious nature can cause us to miss the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. This can also happen in organizations when the work culture has little or no tolerance for perceived failure or shortcomings. Because of that people hold back, don’t openly share and as a result loose the opportunity to gain valuable insight into how to improve their next emergency response.
So is it O.K. to laugh at ourselves when talking about emergency incidents? Is it somehow disrespectful to those impacted by the incident? I say “YES” it is O.K. to laugh, when in an appropriate setting where our humor may not be misunderstood or at the expense of someone impacted by the event in a negative way. Lightening the mood of the debriefing can help people share more readily, release some pressure and give permission to be candid and honest. This is the time when real leaders recognize the value of failure and embrace it. Sometimes a little humor is just what the group needs to relax them and get the dialogue going. So next time you are coordinating a debriefing session open up with a little story about your experience during the drill that might get a few chuckles and get the conversation going (i.e. “and then I slipped and fell right on my butt while heading for exit door… man did that hurt!”). The results could prove to be lifesaving! And that is NO JOKE.
This is John Baker for safetysolutions4schools.com
image courtesy of www.blog.lakeside.com