Network - Fall 2011 - (Page 16)
3. Stranger Violence 4. Domestic Violence
Addressing Violence & Bullying
By Ross Arrowsmith
t seems that workplace violence happens so frequently that unless there are multiple casualties, incidents no longer makes front page news. The phrase “going postal” doesn’t generate the sense of shock and horror it once did. In fact, in most cases, it is used as a catch phrase to describe someone who is tense or agitated. We have slowly become desensitized to the impact of violence and seem to accept it as part of our culture. This complacency can result in a false sense of security that can have tragic consequences, especially when workplace violence occurs in the last place you’d expect, your worksite.
People Don’t “Snap”
I have long maintained that people who commit violent acts are fantastic communicators — we just don’t like the message they are sending. In reality, people don’t suddenly “snap,” there are almost always clear signs that we overlook in our attempt to avoid dealing with uncomfortable situations involving aggressive behaviour. We ignore the warning signs and in doing so, we miss the opportunity to intervene and prevent the situation from escalating. Have you caught yourself or others saying, “I’m sure he doesn’t mean anything by those threats” or “He’s just venting his frustration.” These are statements spoken far too frequently before workplace violence occurs. In my experience, workplace violence involves a dangerous combination of control, justice and ego. Contrary to popular belief, in high-level incidents, like a shooting, the individual views violence as a method for restoring respect and exacting justice. When a person gets to this point, he or she perceives that no other options exist and therefore the violence is justified.
Workplace Violence Defined
Before we go any further, we need to understand what workplace violence is. It is defined as the threatened, attempted or actual conduct of a person that causes or is likely to cause physical injury. It can include harassment, more commonly referred to as workplace bullying, which is vexatious comments or conduct. To round out our definition, it is important to understand that there are four types of workplace violence: 1. Employee Violence 2. Client — Customer Violence
16 O www.hria.ca
Bullies manipulate everyone around them. They come across as victims in an effort to engender support and discredit their target.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Network - Fall 2011
HRIA Chair’s Message
The Bully Wears Heels
Workplace of Respect — Addressing Violence & Bullying
Cyber-Bullying — A Workplace Issue
Workplace Bullying: North America’s Silent Epidemic
Workplace Bullying — An Employer’s Obligations
Seeing the Warning Signs — Domestic Violence in the Workplace
Ask Field Law
The HR Office True-life Tales from the HR Profession
Index of Advertisers
Network - Fall 2011