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Hostility that Could Lead to Violence

Hostility that Could Lead to Violence

Hostility (that Could Lead to Violence)

Hostility can lead to various levels of disruption in the workplace. It can begin as simple insubordination, conflicts with peers and threats, and can escalate to theft, arson, or even murder and suicide. Experts use the term "critical incident" to describe events that could potentially lead to workplace violence. Critical incidents can include refusal to follow company policy, antagonism toward customers, verbal wishes to hurt co-workers and/or management, and actual threats of a sexual or violent nature. Though possibly ignored or minimized by co-workers and management, it is crucial that these critical incidents are seen as warning signs and dealt with immediately with positive management strategies.

Workplace Violence:

For the purpose of this book, workplace violence is defined as any situation that may increase in intensity and threaten the safety of any employee, have an impact on any employee's physical and/or psychological well-being, and/or cause damage to company property.

Although accurate predictions of violence are difficult to make, the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. The best predictor of future violence is a history of violence.

Violent people often give out many signals - even progressively serious signals - that they might violently act out their frustration. The tragedy of workplace violence occurs when these signals are not recognized or are not reported to the next level of management. In this section you will find some tools to help you identify and evaluate indications of possible violent tendencies.

Warning Signs of Hostility

  • Intimidation of others
  • Angry outbursts, low tolerance for frustration, holds grudges
  • Sullen withdrawal or suspicious of others' motives
  • Substance abuse
  • Lacks control of impulses
  • Has financial or family problems, or is socially isolated
  • Blames others for mistakes and difficulties, is defensive when criticized
  • Ominous threats, or conflict with boss or co-worker(s)
  • Obsessions or stalking
  • Owns or discusses weapons

What to Do After a Critical Incident: Ten Tips

  1. Recognize signs of trouble and take action as soon as possible
  2. Take all threats seriously
  3. Assemble a crisis management team to review procedures
  4. Create a crisis management plan
  5. Mobilize professional advisors to analyze behavior, threats, and potential for future violence
  6. Investigate and interview people about the incident
  7. Meet with hostile employee and listen to his point of view
  8. Provide coaching or counseling
  9. Take disciplinary action as appropriate
  10. Provide protection for those threatened

For a comprehensive view on this subject, read Preventing Workplace Violence by Marianne Minor, Crisp Publications.

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