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Dealing with Violence in the Workplace: Causes of Violence

Violence in the workplace can have many roots. An employee may feel threatened if his or her job seems at risk. Personal problems can make workplace conflict more likely. Read below to learn the warning signs and find out what to do if violence happens.

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Red Flags

Violent behavior is more likely to occur when a person is faced with stressful situations such as:

  • A company merger

  • A job termination or layoff

  • A demotion or other change in job duties

  • Significant loss, such as divorce or death

  • A holiday season

  • Money problems

If You See Warning Signs

If you see warning signs of violence, try to respond right away. Invite discussion to build trust. Talking may help stop violence before it happens. It can create understanding between employees in conflict.

If Violence Does Happen

  • Be prepared. Learn your employer’s policies for handling violence. Find out who to contact and what to do.

  • Defuse anger. Problem solving may reduce an employee’s anger. After a cooling-off period, invite the employee to talk. Focus on the problem and look for an answer together. Treat your coworker with respect. Don’t get defensive or sarcastic.

  • Stop the action. If a fistfight is in progress, yell to try to break it up. But do not put yourself in a position to be injured. Call internal security if needed. Report any act of aggression, including threats, to your supervisor.

  • Seek safety and get help. If a situation is life-threatening and you can safely exit the building, get out and call for help. Dial 911 or your local emergency number. If you can’t get out and an armed assault is under way, seek protective cover. Call for help if you can.

 

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