Warning Signs of Violence

  • 1

    Inflexibility: The employee resists change, is rigid and unwilling to discuss ideas contrary to his/her own.

  • 2

    Weapons: He/she has obtained a weapon within the last 90 days, or he/she has a weapons collection, or he/she makes jokes and frequent comments about weapons, or he/she discusses weapons as instruments of power or revenge.

  • 3

    SAD: He/she is sullen, angry or depressed. Chronic anger is an important predictor of more than just violence (i.e., heart attacks) and should never be ignored.

  • 4

    Hopelessness: He/she has made statements like “What’s the use?”; “Nothing ever changes anyway”; “I do not have a future.” He/she makes suicidal references or threats, or he/she makes plans consistent with committing suicide (sells off possessions). Pessimism is an important predictor of problems.

  • 5

    Identification: He/she identifies with or even praises other perpetrators of workplace violence. He/she is attracted to violent films, violent books or gruesome news events.

  • 6

    Co-worker Fear: Co-workers are afraid or apprehensive about him/her (whether or not they can articulate their reasons).

  • 7

    Time: He/she has used threats, intimidation, manipulation and/or escalation toward management or co-workers.

  • 8

    Paranoia: He/she feels others are “out to get” him/her, that unconnected events are related, that others conspire against him/her.

  • 9

    Criticism: He/she reacts adversely to criticism, shows suspicion of those who criticize him/her, and refuses to consider the merits of any critical observations about his/her performance or behavior.

  • 10

    Blame: He/she blames others for the results of his/her own actions, refuses to accept responsibility.

  • 11

    Crusades: He/she has undertaken or attached himself/herself to crusades or missions at work.

  • 12

    Unreasonable Expectations: He/she expects elevation, long-term retention, promotion, an apology, being named the “winner” in some dispute, or being found “right”.

  • 13

    Grievance: He/she has a grievance pending or he/she has a history of filing unreasonable grievances.

  • 14

    Police Encounters: He/she has had recent police encounters (including arrests) or he/she has a history that includes assaultive or behavioral offenses.

  • 15

    Media: There have recently been news stories about workplace violence or other major acts of violence. Press reports on these subjects often stimulate others who identify with the perpetrators and the attention they got for their acts. Like public figure attacks, major incidents of workplace violence tend to come in clusters.

  • 16

    Focus: He/she has monitored the behavior, activities, performance, or comings and goings of other employees, though it is not his/her job to do so. He/she may have stalked someone in or out of the workplace.

  • 17

    Contact: If he/she was fired, he/she has instigated and maintained contact with current employees; he/she refuses to let go and appears more focused on the job he/she lost than finding other employment.

*Gavin DeBecker, The Gift of Fear, Little, Brown & Co., New York, 1997, p. 151-153

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For more information or to schedule an appointment with the St. Elizabeth Employee Assistance Program, please call (859) 301-2570.

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