Far too many times, when I hear an incident of workplace violence (WPV), there is always some talking heads in the media, personalities, psychologists, and others, including security and law enforcement, who are glad to tell you, ‘They just snapped with no warning’. Granted they say those because they make excellent sound bites, which is exactly what the general public and news casts demand (unfortunately).
There are always warning signs of anyone who is about to go off and start harming people. And it doesn’t really matter whether it’s with their fists, pipe wrench, pencils or staplers, or knives and firearms! There will always be warning signs they are about to hurt someone.
There are numerous instances throughout the recent history of WPV where the shooter either ignored or didn’t shoot people who were right in front of them. In several cases the shooter looked them straight in the eye and continued walking by, or saying ‘I don’t want you’.
We can either choose to act upon or ignore the warning signs. Which way we decide to act could determine whether someone will live or die. And in reporting the warning signs there are several things that stand in the way of reporting them to a supervisor or manager.
So what are some of those excuses that people give for not reporting the warning signs to the proper individual(s)? This is only a partial list. I’m sure you’ve heard many more than these. And before I list them, a quote;
He, who accepts evil, without protesting against it, is really cooperating with it.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- He is just going through a tough time
- He’s not that kind
- He’s got problems, who doesn’t?
- I don’t want to get him in trouble.
- I don’t want to get involved.
- It’s not my problem
- Why should I care what happens to him?
- I hate this place, why should I warn them?
- This company needs a wake-up call anyway.
- They won’t listen to me.
Connecting the Dots:
I stated above that no one just ever snaps. There are always the warning signs. Unfortunately, it’s as much the companies fault as it is employees that these signs are ignored. In addition, to the excuses above, no one can or is willing to ‘connect the dots’. It is a simple exercise, especially when you know what to look, and train employees in.
And it’s not just that simple either. Supervisors, managers, human resources, security, top management, literally everyone needs to know not to ignore what an employee brings to them. And they need to ‘buy-in’ to the security and WPV prevention program 150%. And demonstrate that fact.
Another person’s view:
Forensic psychologist Robert Fein, PhD, now a national security psychologist, “targeted violence is the end result of an understandable and often discernible process of thinking and behavior,” In other words, people don’t just “snap,” he says.
Specifically, studies found that attackers usually plan for days and months before committing a crime. In addition, while perpetrators don’t often threaten their targets directly, other people usually know enough to be concerned before a plan is carried out. “It seems increasingly clear that when bad things happen, there are people around the person who know enough to have concerns,”
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized authority on workplace violence prevention. He has proven himself in the security arena for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues. His forthcoming e-book ‘One is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace Violence’ will be out in June. You can read more about WPV/security at www.todays-training.com