Fear disguised as safety


August 19th, 2013

Will it be safe? This is a key consideration for many travellers. It’s a key question asked by my family and friends when I travel to little-known places. And it’s easy to fall into the trap of catastrophising the possible outcomes of travelling to perceived unsafe – or even perceived safe, but different (read unknown) – places. SO much could go wrong. The reality is quite different. People are helpful, places are generally safe and life continues. Adventures are had and memories are collected. Of course, proper care and attention is needed for personal safety etc – and that’s true of anywhere, including home.

Fear seems to be a strong driver, and people will ask “will it be safe” instead of saying “I fear for your safety”. One is a question, the other a statement. Does it matter? Maybe.

We get a similar reaction to workshops and training: “will it deliver our outcomes?” is like asking “will it be safe?”. When what people might really be saying is, “I fear for what might happen if we open this up to the real issues.” I suspect we might need to have more conversations about the concrete things that we might fear rather than the abstract deliverables and learning outcomes that pretend to offer safety and assurance but are often no more than platitudes.

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