Striking a Balance between Negative and Positive Messaging in Safety

One of the sure-fire ways to supress innovation, creativity, learning and resilience is to suppress critical thinking.

I have written about the need for critical thinking in Safety before:

Unfortunately, it seems any messaging that criticises Safety, its deemed ‘bad messaging’ (by Safety).

What is most peculiar in this phenomenon is that critical thinking about Safety is made bad, but name calling, argument without evidence, non-engagement and criticism of alternative philosophy is deemed ‘good’.

This is the absurdity of the culture of Safety. Critical thinking is deemed negativity and negativity is somehow bad. But, negativity about negativity is deemed ‘good’.

This is the kind of nonsense you get from Seligman ( and the delusion of positive psychology. I know, let’s turn a blind eye to anything negative because we only want to hear the good news. Let’s only learn from what safety does well, let’s not talk about what Safety does poorly.

In the world of Safety, it seems that the curriculum teaches people that they don’t just have an interest in safety but that they ARE Safety ( How bizarre.

In real professions people don’t think they ARE Medicine, or Nursing, or Social Work or Teaching and in these professions open debate, critical thinking and negative messaging are welcomed. Not so Safety. If you are critical of Safety, you are critical of me!

Much of this comes from the silly Safety language of ‘make safety personal’ (;;; You can see (if you read any of these links) that no one calling to ‘make safety personal’ actually knows what it means. And often this nonsense language is anchored to zero!

Perhaps this is why few engage with critical thinking in Safety.

In all the winging and complaining the work of SPoR gets, few send an email, few ask a question, or respond with open enquiry. Apparently, complaining is good.

Why this absurd identification of personhood with an outcome? Perhaps this is why safety people get the sack if an injury occurs? Why does the safety industry brutalise its own people? ( Voices from the Resistance) Why all this fear of critical thinking and then projecting it as ‘bad messaging’?

We would have to go back to the foundations of safety in engineering and regulation to get to the heart of the problem. Safety has created for itself a mono-disciplinary bubble and echo chamber that is so fearful of the negative that it cannot cope. Why such fragility? ( Why is it that Safety is so low on resilience? Why is this kind of Safety such a hot bed for anti-learning?

There is no learning without contestation, critical thinking, deconstruction, uncertainty, discomfort and dissonance. To fear these creates fragility and protects unethical conduct. Please don’t criticise unethical conduct, this is Safety, be nice. Nice is good.

Innovation comes when one steps outside of the boundaries of what doesn’t work.

To be so fixated on positive psychology is ( is not healthy.

There has to be a balance (; between positive and negative.

In SPoR, this is what we do. We offer balance in criticism and deconstruct things that don’t work and, offer alternatives methods ( that don’t brutalise people.

Everything that SPoR offers is positive, practical and it works (

If you want to know how SPoR works it’s as easy a free download ( or an open question via email.


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