Networking "Dirtiness" and Psychological Safety

Professional Networking Makes People Feel Dirty

What We All Know

  • Everyone knows that their careers are substantially dependent on their networks, hence the ability of building networks (i.e., networking) is an essential skill.

  • There are two ways of networking: intentional (knowing who exactly to meet and what to talk about) and spontaneous (discovery, not knowing who to meet).

  • There are people in low-power jobs (associates) and high-power jobs (senior managers, partners, etc.). This will be important later, just had to mention it.


  • Many people hate networking with a passion, as in their minds it is associated with the feelings of inauthenticity and immorality (i.e., makes them feel “dirty”).

  • Some people engaged in intentional networking feel higher need for “cleanliness” than those who are more spontaneous. But who are they?

  • The people in low-power jobs tend to avoid networking feeling and feel “unclean”. People who got to high-power jobs have either got there because networking had been a path to promotion, or that higher responsibilities and pay plus the ability to make a difference make the “unclean” feelings go away.


High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety

  • Google: the highest performance teams have one thing in common: psychological safety (i.e., you won’t be punished for your mistake). [MK: is it a source or the result of the high performance?]

  • Psychological safety allows for moderate risk-taking in the firm’s behaviour and the interpersonal communications of staff.

  • Humans have developed the “fight or flight” response to threatening or uncertain situations, and it fires during criticism, provocation and similar negative workplace occurrences. And this response literally blocks the logical part of the brain from functioning – think about a prolonged exposure to workplace abuse and the associated performance results.

  • Alternatively, trust and positive work environment is a big predictor [MK: and the result, too] of team success.

  • Healthy corporate cultures are aware of the workplace-helplessness coming from criticism, competition and disengagement and focus on cooperation.

  • Treating humans like humans and understanding that they also have motivations, need for status and vulnerabilities goes a long way to avoid dehumanizing counterparties and staff.

  • Replace blame with curiosity – decreased performance has underlying reasons, which need to be uncovered in a conversation; blame kills any chance for a healthy conversation and will polarize the parties.

  • Ask for feedback on delivery – this increases trust and allows to understand if the other person feels the message is unfair or incorrect. It also allows better tailoring the message next time the need arises.

  • Measuring psychological safety [MK: Aviasales does it via Officevibe] is an important activity for managers and HR personnel to spot problems early.