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Connection and the Psychological Safety of Teams with Dr. Jackie Kinley
Episode 46631st August 2022 • The Best Practices Show • ACT Dental
00:00:00 00:40:26

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Connection and the Psychological Safety of Teams

Episode #466 with Dr. Jackie Kinley

Workplaces can be busy, unwelcoming, and stressful. And when people are stressed, they disconnect. So, how do you get your team to be a team? For some insight into team connection, Kirk Behrendt brings in Dr. Jackie Kinley, founder and CEO of AIR Institutes, to explain what true connection is, how it affects work performance, and ways to create a shared vision and mission. And all of this starts with you, the leader! To start creating a safe and welcoming environment for your team, listen to Episode 462 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

Understand what real connection is.

A lack of connection is harmful.

Real connection is hard work.

Life is all about relationships.

Instant pleasures are empty.

Be the master of yourself.


“When you don't get connection, when you don't get the warmth and the attention and the love, and you don't feel seen and understood, and you don't feel like you belong, it could be really harmful. It creates sadness and fear and anger.” (5:50—6:06)

“There are instant pleasures. You can get on Facebook and feel like you get a little hit of something. But they're empty pleasures. And a connection is not about that. It’s not about that little hit of whatever. It’s deeper than that.” (10:20—10:35)

“Real connection, you have to work at it. It doesn't just come. It doesn't just happen. That's why you say, ‘I've got one or two friends,’ because friendships aren't quick and easy. Connection is hard. And that's what makes it so rewarding, is that you have to work.” (10:40—10:58)

“Connecting and being part of a team, it’s not just going into the office and doing your job and leaving, it’s how do you actually connect with the other people in the office. Like, how do you become a team? How do you have a shared mission, a shared purpose? Those are things that are lacking. Everybody has their own agenda. What's our shared agenda? At the end of the day, what do we all want? And people, generally, want to feel happy, connected, secure, safe. And that's going to require us working together in different ways. And technology is not going to solve that.” (11:17—11:53)

“Sometimes, workplaces, not by intention but just by design, can be unwelcoming and busy. And so, it’s about being very deliberate in creating spaces where people can come together and support each other and care about each other — not care for each other, but about each other. And if we don't have places like that, people aren't going to feel safe. They're not going to feel open. They're not going to be willing to connect.” (12:53—13:22)

“Teams care about each other. They have a shared purpose. They're willing to sacrifice for other team members. Sometimes, you don't see that in offices. You see people, ‘I'm going to come in, I'm going to do my job. This is what it is,’ because people are doing the best with the resources they have. They're tired. And I think what we don't realize is, sometimes, the more we can slow down and connect with each other and become a team, then we’re all better as a result of that.” (14:11—14:41)

“Teams require leadership . . . You need leaders that help to promote connection, create a culture where people can feel engaged, and they're part of something, and they're making a difference, and they're not just foot soldiers. And so, there's a deliberate and intentional thing that has to happen at a leadership level to be able to create teams.” (14:46—15:07)

“Just having a job is not enough. People want more than that now. People want meaning in their life.” (15:28—15:33)

“When you create an environment which is safe and welcoming, your employees not only feel better, but they actually do better.” (17:07—17:17)

“It starts with you. Nothing grows from the outside in. It always grows from the inside out. So, it starts with knowing yourself.” (19:22—19:29)

“The more resilient the individuals are and self-aware they are, the whole team performs better.” (20:06—20:14)

“Relationships nourish us. People don't realize that they're like food for the soul.” (23:53—24:00)

“People haven't learned the difference between emotion and behavior. People get angry and they act out. You can get angry, and you can feel sad. But you're still accountable for your behavior. So, understand where the anger is coming from, and then use that energy in a positive way.” (24:17—24:34)

“Don't be a slave to your emotions.” (25:03—25:07)

“Resilience is the space between reaction and response.” (35:20—35:24)

“Life is relationships. Life is all about relationships. We are particle and wave. We are constantly in relationship with ourselves and with other people. Life is connection. So, if we don't have connection, we’re not going to survive.” (36:37—36:55)


0:00 Introduction.

2:15 Dr. Kinley’s background.

3:27 What is connection?

4:53 Connection before and during the pandemic.

6:47 How to bring back connection.

9:43 Connection is hard work.

11:53 The psychological safety of being in a team.

13:44 Having an office versus having a team.

15:40 The physiological effects and benefits of connection.

18:24 It starts with knowing yourself.

21:25 Happiness happens with effort.

23:12 Trends in connection since the pandemic.

25:45 Social media and mental obesity.

31:47 Become psychologically stronger with AIR.

36:17 Last thoughts on connection.

37:39 How to get in touch with Dr. Kinley.

Reach Out to Dr. Kinley:

Dr. Kinley’s Facebook:


Air Institutes:

Mental Fitness: The Game Changer by Dr. Jackie Kinley:

Dr. Jackie Kinley Bio:

Dr. Jackie Kinley is a Psychiatrist, Associate Professor (Dalhousie University), and Honorary Fellow of the Canadian Association for Group Therapy, Training, and Facilitation, and a Fellow of the Canadian Psychiatric Association. Her expertise in psychiatry and research in the neuroscience of resilience was the inspiration behind AIR Institutes, which delivers programs to enhance mental fitness, performance, and resilience.

Dr. Kinley has provided resilience assessment, coaching, and training to corporate clients such as Emera, Air Canada, and Stewart McKelvey, as well as to professional associations such as The National Judicial Institute and Doctors Nova Scotia. She has worked with different departments in the public sector, including Health Canada and the NS provincial Public Service Commission. She has been providing resilience training for new recruits and the peer support team at Halifax Regional Fire Department and partnered with non-profits that include the Canadian Mental Health Association and NS Division, as well as the YMCA.

Dr. Kinley has published many research articles on the neurobiology of resilience, presents internationally on the subject of personal and organizational resilience, and has had multiple media appearances on CBC and CTV, and has been featured in popular magazines, including Atlantic Canada Business Journal and OptiMYze, a national women’s health periodical.