Workplace violence can start as small incidents involving negative remarks and inappropriate behavior. It may escalate to physical or psychological violence. It can be very difficult to know when a person is going to be violent. While not all people will show signs, certain behaviors can serve as warning signs that a situation could turn violent.
It is extremely important to understand that the following behaviors do not mean a person will become violent, but they may be experiencing high levels of stress. Always take these behaviors "in context". Look for multiple warning signs and for signs of escalation (the behaviors are getting worse). There may be a change in their behavior patterns, the frequency and intensity of the behaviors are disruptive to the work place, or the person is exhibiting many of these behaviors, rather than just a few.
Warning signs may include:
- Disrespect for authority, complaints of unfair treatment
- Scowling, sneering or use of abusive language
- Refusal to acknowledge job performance problems
- Overreacting to criticism, blaming others for mistakes
- Clenched jaws or fists, exaggerated or violent gestures
- Violating your personal space (they get too close)
- States intention to hurt someone (can be verbal or written)
- Holds grudges, takes offense at innocent remarks
- Escalating threats that appears well-planned
- Fascination with weapons, acts of violence, or both
- Extreme or bizarre behavior or irrational beliefs and ideas
Violent behavior is not limited only to what’s on this list. Remember, we all experience stress in our lives. We all get angry at times. When someone is overwhelmed they can lash out at others. Most of us have felt some of these signs, but someone who shows many of them may be a danger to themselves or others. If you are worried that someone at work will hurt themselves or someone else, speak up. Workplace violence often results in serious injuries, and can also result in life threatening injuries, or even death. You can report your concerns to any supervisor or manager in the company.