Believe it or not, violence is becoming a normal part of the work day in some offices.
Violence can be classified as both physical and verbal. Unfortunately, no company, large or small, is immune.
According to Sheryl and Don Grimme of Workplace Violence Headquarters, there are two myths that companies are clinging to. The first myth is "It can´t happen here". Thousands of workplace incidents occur every day that are never even reported. The second myth is "It can´t be prevented". In at least 85 percent of incidents, there are clear warning signs.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Violence in the Workplace, 1993-99, 1.7 million violent workplace victimizations took place between 1993 and 1999. There were around 900 workplace-related homicides annually during those years as well. Workplace violence accounted for 18 percent of all violent crime during the seven-year period.
Almost one in eight victimized workers was injured during the violent acts, and one in nine faced multiple offenders. In about 11 percent of the workplace homicides the offender was a coworker, former coworker or customer. More than 80 percent of the workplace homicides were committed with firearms.
We can only imagine what the numbers will show from 2000-2005. The Workplace Violence Headquarters has developed a formula for workplace violence called POSTAL. Profile + Observable Warning Signs + Shotgun + Triggered Event = Always Lethal.
Profile: Previous history of violence, loner, emotional problems, career frustration, antagonistic relationships, some type of obsession
Observable Warning Signs: Violent and threatening behavior, strange behavior, emotional problems, performance problems, interpersonal problems, "at the end of the rope"
Shotgun: Access to and familiarity with weapons
Triggering Event: the last straw, no way out, no more options, i.e. being fired, laid off or passed over for a promotion, disciplinary action, poor performance review, criticism from boss or coworkers, failed romance, personal crisis
In order for employees to protect themselves when faced with a hostile and potentially violent non-employee or customer, hostage negotiator Larry J. Chavez of Critical Incident Associates recommends the following:
1. Understand the mindset of the hostile or potentially violent person
2. Practice "active listening"
3. Avoid Controntation
4. Allow a total airing of the grievance without comment or judgment
5. Allow the aggrieved party to suggest a solution
6. Move toward a win-win resolution
If you are interested in protecting your workplace from violence, take a proactive approach and schedule a workshop or presentation. Further details can be found at http://www.workplace-violence-hq.com.
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction.” ~ E. F. Schumacher